With the virus now able to spread to nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. Other countries and experts fear that China will become fertile ground for new variants.
Paris: An explosion of Covid-19 cases in China as the country lifts its zero-covid. Regime could create a “potential breeding ground” for new strains to emerge, health experts have warned.
China announced this week that incoming travelers will”. No longer have to quarantine from January 8, the latest major change to the strict restrictions that have closed. The country to the world since the pandemic began.
Although the country’s National Health Commission has stopped issuing daily case numbers. Officials in several cities have estimated. That tens of thousands of people have been infected in recent weeks. Hospitals and crematoriums across the country are overwhelmed.
With the virus now able to spread to about one-fifth of the world’s popu alation. Almost all of whom lack immunity from previous infections. And many of whom are unvaccinated – other countries and experts fear that China will become fertile ground for new variants.
Antoine Flaholt, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva. Told AFP that each new infection increases the chance that the virus will mutate.
“The fact that 1.4 billion people have suddenly been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 clearly creates a predisposing situation for emerging variants.” Flaholt said, referring to the virus that causes the disease Covid-19.
Bruno Lina, a professor of virology at the University of Lyon in France, told La Croix newspaper. This week that China could become a “potential breeding ground for the virus”.
Soumya Swaminathan, who served as the World Health Organization’s chief scientist until November. Said a large part of the Chinese population was at risk of infection in part because many older people were not vaccinated or raised.
“We have to keep a close eye on any emergence,” he told the website of the Indian Express newspaper.
Countries test Chinese travellers
In response to rising cases, the United States, Italy, Japan, India and Malaysia. Announced this week that they would increase health measures for travelers from China.
The lack of transparent data from China – particularly about viral genomic sequencing – is “making it increasingly difficult for public health officials to ensure. That they will be able to identify any potential new variants. And take immediate action to reduce the spread”, US officials said on Tuesday.
India and Japan have already said they will impose mandatory PCR tests on all passengers arriving from China. A measure Flaholt said could lead to any delay in information from Beijing.
“If we succeed in sampling and sequencing all the viruses detected from a traveler from China. We will know as soon as new variants emerge and spread in the country,” he said.
Xu Wenbo, head of the Covid Virus Control Institute at China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Said last week that hospitals across the country will collect samples from patients. And upload sequencing information to a new national database. So authorities can check potential new strains. Actual time.
More than 130 Omicron sublineages have been newly identified in China in the past three months, he told reporters.
Among these were XXB and BQ.1 and their sublineages, which have spread to the United States. And parts of Europe in recent months as a swarm of subvariants compete for global dominance.
But, BA.5.2 and BF.7 remain the main Omicron strains identified in China, Xu said, adding that different sublines likely coexist.
“A soup” of more than 500 new omicron subvariants have been identified in recent months, Flahault said. Though it’s often been difficult to tell where each one first appeared.
“Any variant, when more transmissible than the previous dominant ones – such as BQ.1, B2.75.2, XBB, CH.1. Or BF.7 – certainly represents a threat, because they can cause new waves,” he said. “But, none of these known variants appear to our knowledge to exhibit any particular new risk of more severe symptoms. Although this may occur with new variants soon.”