by Ioanna Kyriakou
Europe has been put on alert by the rapid increase in coronavirus cases in China, following the lifting of the zero covid policy, with member states' health authorities consulting on possible measures to be imposed on Chinese travelers. Cyprus took the first step in this direction on Tuesday (02/01), when the Minister of Health, Michael Hadjipandela, convened an emergency meeting with the Scientific Advisory Committee to assess the epidemiological picture in China. In order to assess the current situation and whether the concern expressed is justified, "K" contacted a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Virology at the Medical School of the University of Nicosia, Dr. Petros Karagiannis.
Many countries have already imposed or are about to impose restrictions on Chinese travelers.
What scientists fear
As the epidemiologists' data shows, the coronavirus mutation strain that was circulating in China has been present in Cyprus since August 2022, so the situation is not particularly concerning at this time. However, as Dr. Karagiannis noted, based on the data available, a new strain of the virus could emerge and spread to Europe, necessitating the mobilization of the appropriate authorities.
Chinese visitors and Cyprus
When asked if the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Cyprus is cause for concern, Dr. Karagiannis said they prefer other countries, particularly Italy. He emphasized that Chinese visitors, despite their small number, arrive in Cyprus via third-party airports and that Cyprus will take the collective measures decided by the European Union to deal with the situation. It was noted that a new meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee with the Minister of Health will be held next Tuesday, where measures are expected to be decided and taken to the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Which countries have taken measures
It should be noted that many countries have already imposed or are about to impose restrictions on Chinese travelers. These are the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, South Korea, India, and Morocco. Qatar is expected to require Chinese visitors to provide a 48-hour negative test starting today. All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to take the test. It should be noted that most countries now require either a 72-hour PCR or a rapid 48-hour pre-boarding and post-boarding test, and some countries are also sampling a number of passengers to determine which strains are being handled.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]