Region of Concern: China
Written By Claire Bracco; Edited by Amy McGee
Date: January 4, 2023
COVID-19 in China
Event: In a statement on January 4, the Chinese Foreign Minister spokesperson, Mao Ning, criticized the recent measures imposed on passengers and goods traveling from China. The measures come after a peak in COVID-19 cases in the country, as well as concerns over a lack of transparency on infections. As the Kraken variant spreads in the US, new fear rises about the spread of the variant in China considering the rise in commercial traveling. Hospitals in China have been under intense pressure facing shortages of medical equipment due to the surging COVID-19 cases after the change of the ‘Zero-COVID’ policy. As of today, several countries, including the US, India, Japan, and EU countries, have already imposed a testing requirement before boarding flights out of China. Although China has maintained its strict entry requirements, Mao defined the new international restrictions as excessive and promised hard political countermeasures.
Significance: Due to the lack of transparency on COVID-19 cases, it is very likely that the international community will continue, if not strengthen, its safety measures against Beijing. This will almost certainly include testing all people and possibly infected goods coming out of the country, including wastewater from flights and domestic animals. It is likely that, because of the lack of medical personnel and equipment, cases will continue to rise, adding to the growing death toll. This will very likely negatively impact the already strained supply chain system and economic stability of the country. It is likely that a new variant will soon spread, such as the Kraken variant, causing more social and economic disruption as it is unlikely that the outbreak has reached its peak yet. The spread of the virus is very likely to continue because of COVID-19 fatigue and superspreader events, such as the coming celebrations for the Lunar Year.
Recommendations: The international community should keep its safety measures to avoid the spread of the virus. At the same time, deals should be made to ensure the continuation of smooth travel and trade from China to the rest of the world. China should focus on improving its medical equipment in hospitals and health clinics as cases are expected to rise. Necessary medical supplies should be available to citizens and ordered by domestic supply chains if they are not already. The Chinese Communist Party should be more transparent about the number of current cases and deaths in the country to ensure the correct treatment of patients. This data should be reported to GISAID, the global platform for coronavirus data, in order to predict the trend of the pandemic. New health and safety measures should be implemented domestically to contain the present outbreak as well as to detect and avoid future ones. This includes the emergency approval of more antiviral drugs.
 What We Know About the ‘Kraken’ Covid Variant XBB.1.5 and Why It’s Causing Concern, MSN, January 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/what-we-know-about-the-kraken-covid-variant-xbb15-and-why-its-causing-concern/ar-AA15ZHrG
 COVID pressures China's hospitals as countries mandate tests for travelers, Reuters, December 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-hospitals-extremely-busy-covid-spreads-unchecked-2022-12-28/
 Beijing threatens response to ‘unacceptable’ virus measures, AP, January 2023, https://apnews.com/article/politics-sports-health-china-beijing-d9b5f0e1520c899ffe6b614135be73a8