Joe Biden: Five Republican senators, led by Marco Rubio, requested on Friday that President Joe Biden‘s administration impose a travel ban between the United States and China in the midst of a global upsurge in respiratory illnesses and child pneumonia clusters in China.
Call for Travel Restrictions
“We should immediately restrict travel between the United States and (China) until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness,” said the letter signed by Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Programme for Monitoring Emerging Diseases released a report on clusters of paediatric pneumonia cases that went undetected, and the World Health Organisation has asked China to provide further details.
Taiwan’s Travel Advisory
Taiwan has advised the elderly, very young, and those with weakened immune systems not to travel to China, even though the WHO later stated that health authorities have not found any unusual or novel pathogens. Reuters said that neither the White House nor the Chinese embassy in the US responded right away. According to Maria Van Kerkhove, acting head of the WHO’s department of pandemic and epidemic preparedness and prevention, more children seem to be catching infections that they had not before during the two years of the Covid-19 curbs. This is what caused the increase earlier this week.
Trump’s Travel Restrictions in January 2020
Due to worries about COVID-19, then-US President Donald Trump forbade most non-citizens who had visited China in the two weeks before from entering the country in January 2020. Trump, however, made no changes to the flight schedule between the two nations. There has been a steady increase in flights between the United States and China in recent months. Beginning in November 2021, the United States lifted the historically strict travel restrictions for foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated, including those from China. A different requirement for travellers by air to test negative prior to arrival in June 2022 was removed by the US. Following Beijing’s decision to relax its strict zero-Covid policies, the US began requiring air travellers to have negative Covid tests in January. The requirements were later lifted in March.
China’s Winter Season Post-COVID-19 Restrictions
As China prepares for its first complete winter season since removing stringent Covud-19 restrictions in December of last year, the country is seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses. Social media users have shared images of children receiving intravenous drips in hospitals, and media outlets in the northwest, including Xian, have shared videos of packed hospitals, escalating worries about possible pressures on the healthcare system.
Limited Elaboration on the Increase
On November 13, the National Health Commission announced to the media that the incidence of respiratory diseases had increased, but it did not elaborate. WHOM “Chinese health authorities advised that the current numbers they are observing is not greater than the peak in the most recent cold season prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” China sent an email to Reuters.