A virology professor in Cyprus says an EU decision to impose pre-departure COVID tests on travelers from China appears to be a political decision that is not based on science.
European Union officials decided on Wednesday to “strongly” urge member states to require all travelers from China to take pre-departure Covid tests in response to surging levels of coronavirus cases in the Red Dragon.
The decision, which was later described by diplomats as a “coordinated precautionary approach,” came a week after Italy, France, and Spain independently took measures to monitor travelers from China, where there was a surge in coronavirus cases after Beijing ended its zero covid policy.
Europe is exaggerating response
Cypriot health officials also signaled that Nicosia would take measures “in line with the EU” as a response to the surge in China.
But Leondios Kostrikis, who runs a lab in biotechnology and molecular virology in Cyprus, says Europe is exaggerating in its response.
“The current surge in China is waning and the worst of cases is already over,” Kostrikis told a local radio on Wednesday.
'A new variant can emerge anywhere on the planet, which means entry restrictions targeting China are unnecessary' Mao told reporters on Tuesday
China recently joined other nations around the world when it announced it would modify how fatalities and coronavirus cases would be counted, prompting western officials to accuse Beijing of not being transparent.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides reportedly wrote a letter to the bloc’s 27 health ministers, telling them that reliable epidemiological and testing data for China were scarce and further urging member states to scale back up their genomic sequencing of the coronavirus.
But Beijing has dismissed the allegations, with Chinese officials pointing out that the main variant now spreading in China had previously been found elsewhere already.
“A new variant can emerge anywhere on the planet, which means entry restrictions targeting China are unnecessary,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a press conference on Tuesday.
Variant was already in Europe & Cyprus
A day earlier Cypriot Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela also clarified that a variant now surfing in China was in fact present in Cyprus since August 2022.
Mao also said that Beijing had “shared information in a timely, open and transparent manner in accordance with the law” and also had meetings with the World Health Organization.
“We shared the genome data of the virus from the latest COVID cases in China via the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data,” Mao said.
No evidence Beijing provides erroneous information
Kostrikis, who made news one year ago when he discovered Deltacron, also dismissed the allegations against China, saying based on all the data he had seen so far he did “not agree with the view that Beijing was providing erroneous information.”
“The decision of the EU Health Security Committee was political, it had political criteria,” Kostrikis said.
The virology professor also pointed out that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also had a similar view, meaning neither Kostrikis nor the agency could not see any scientific evidence.
Last week the ECDC warned that such measures on travelers from China were scientifically “unjustified.”
Kostrikis also dismissed allegations that China was not being transparent, saying based on all the data he had seen so far he did “not agree with the view that China was providing erroneous information.”
Mao warned that Beijing would take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.