Officials said Friday that China has tightened quarantine and testing rules for inbound travelers, especially from India and some neighboring countries that are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases as the virus mutates faster and new strains spread faster around the world.
He Qinghua, an official with the Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control of the National Health Commission, said all passengers arriving in China from overseas should be quarantined for 14 days at centralized facilities, especially those returning from India and others. countries heavily affected by the virus.
For all returnees from abroad, two nose swabs will be taken from each person on the last day of their quarantine. “These two samples will be processed by different testing agencies and tested on two different nucleic acid reagents to ensure that our tests are of the highest quality,” he said.
Since arriving travelers must also monitor their health at home for seven days after the quarantine, he said that timely communication between authorities in different regions should be intensified to ensure that these travelers are managed in a closed loop.
These stricter measures to limit the risk of imported cases have been taken as mutations in the virus appear to be accelerating and spreading widely around the world. The new strain, which was first discovered in India and raised serious concerns about its potentially higher transmissibility, has been reported in at least 44 countries and regions, He said.
New strains have been reported in China, first appearing in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India. The country had 142 imported infections in May as of Thursday, with a growing proportion of cases attributable to variants, according to the commission.
A home case was reported early Wednesday morning in eastern Anhui province – the first local infection transmitted in more than three weeks. As of Thursday afternoon, the province has reported three more cases internally, including one that was likely linked to arriving travelers earlier this month, according to local authorities.
He said there will be more options in the future and China is able to detect them, he said, adding that “monitoring of viral mutations will be intensified.
“We will analyze the genome sequence of all confirmed infections and will activate tracing of viral mutations to quickly assess the risks.”
Meanwhile, studies on the efficacy of domestic COVID-19 vaccines on variants are ongoing, said Shao Yiming, an expert at the Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine Development Task Force.
He said that inactivated vaccines produced by domestic companies have already proven effective in protecting against new strains, which were first reported in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Brazil.
“We are also conducting research on a new strain circulating rapidly in India,” he said, adding that now available inactivated vaccines can be conveniently and quickly upgraded to reflect options without redefining their production technology.
Three of the four domestic vaccines approved for use in China are doses in which an inactivated virus is used to trigger an immune response in the human body.
China on Thursday injected more than 12.6 million doses of the vaccine, the highest daily vaccination rate since the commission began reporting progress on daily vaccinations on March 24. In total, nearly 367 million doses had been delivered in the country as of Thursday.
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