Britain urged to break Covid delay – We cant trust China

China’s spokesperson censors himself after zero Covid question

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The Government has been urged to break its “bizarre” delay in dealing with China’s Covid-19 threat and to “lead from the front” to protect our way of life by a Conservative politician. Tobias Ellwood, Bournemouth East MP, warned that China was not to be trusted after the nation repeatedly misled the international community about the virus and obstructed its data in recent weeks. Covid infections in China have skyrocketed since it abandoned its zero-Covid policy earlier this month, which included scrapping strict lockdowns, quarantining and regular PCR testing.

With its border controls also being eased, there are fears it could lead to an increase in global cases and the spread of new variants.

In response to these concerns, a number of countries – including the US, Israel, Japan, India, Italy, Spain and Taiwan – have introduced new rules for people travelling from China.

The UK has yet to announce similar measures but there is speculation the Government will soon follow suit.

However, the delay in introducing new measures has sparked concern that not enough lessons have been learned from the previous waves.

Mr Ellwood, Chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, told “We need to get better at assessing the threat and then expediting a solution much, much faster.

“We leave ourselves hostage to fortune by allowing huge swathes of people to enter our country without proper scrutiny.

“The warning signs have been there. A flight landed in Milan last week from China and almost half of the passengers were found to have COVID.

“This is despite China’s protestations that there’s nothing to see here.

“China claims only one or two are dying a day from COVID when we know that their hospitals and morgues are absolutely maxed out. They’re dying in their thousands, that’s very, very clear.

“They claim that there are just 5,000 cases reported a day. The experts suggest the actual figure is closer to a million a day. We cannot trust China.

“Don’t forget, this is a country that tried to cover up the original outbreak of COVID for a full month.

“It took a whole year for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be allowed in for inspection at the Wuhan Institute of virology – and of course they came up with nothing so we should absolutely be taking our own precautionary measures.”

Earlier this month, the US and WHO both urged Beijing to be more transparent in sharing data on case counts, disease severity, hospital admission figures and other health statistics that have been made widely available by other nations.

These requests appear to have had little impact, with China sharing fewer than 1,000 Covid virus samples with the international scientific community over the past month and maintaining unrealistically low reported infections and deaths.

Officially, China reported 5,515 infections overnight and one Covid death.

Since December 7, when China abandoned the zero-Covid policy and scrapped most restrictions, the official death toll has been only 12, bringing the total to just 5,247 since the start of the pandemic.

However, Airfinity, a UK-based health data company, estimates that about 9,000 people in China are likely dying each day with Covid, nearly doubling its estimate from a week ago.

By Airfinity’s latest estimates, COVID-19 infections may peak on January 13 with 3.7 million cases a day, and deaths may peak on January 23, one day after the Chinese New Year holiday, with up to 25,000 a day.

The country may have a total of 1.7 million virus-related deaths by the end of April, the predictions suggest.

The UK is expected to fall in line with other countries which have taken action and require travellers arriving from China to provide a negative pre-departure Covid test.

As well as having to show a negative test, up to a fifth of those arriving from China will also be tested on arrival so that genomic analysis can be carried out to track arriving strains.

Meanwhile, hospital patients may also be asked if they have visited China so that positive Covid cases can be fast-tracked for genetic sequencing.

Mr Ellwood said the measures, should they be introduced, would be “better late than never”, but he urged the Government to be more assertive in protecting our “way of life”.

He added: “It’s just bizarre. We should be leading from the front, countries look to us for international leadership.

“We’re normally the ones that have a good radar as to threats that are coming over the horizon and we act swiftly but it’s the essence here that is concerning – we need to get better at this.

“Hope is not a strategy – hoping that things won’t get worse. That didn’t work at the start of this outbreak and it won’t work now.

“It’s right to be cautious. It’s right to protect our way of life. With this minimal effort, we can better understand what’s spilling out of China and to some degree control it.”

As the UK weighs up its next move, the EU announced it would hold emergency talks next week to assess the “evolving situation”.

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