Taiwan is urging children, elderly, and immunocompromised patients not to travel to mainland China amid an outbreak of a mystery pneumonia in the country.
Taiwan’s health ministry has told its vulnerable populations ‘not to travel to China unless necessary’, it revealed in a statement Thursday.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted hours before the new travel order that authorities have the situation ‘under effective control’.
Scenes of hazmat suit-clad workers spraying disinfectant through schools and streets, and images of crowds in hospitals wearing masks in hospitals, have chilling similarities to the earliest days of Covid.
The World Health Organization says it has scene data showing China’s outbreak is a result of common respiratory illnesses rather than a new pathogen.
Taiwan – which has been wary of its neighbor since the original 2003 SARS cover-up – is urging its people not to travel to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau unless necessary.
It said that if travel to China was unavoidable, then people should get the flu and Covid vaccinations before traveling.
Chinese and WHO officials have insisted that the surge is being caused by a flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and mycoplasma pneumoniae, a bacterial infection that leads to pneumonia.
The country had one of the longest and harshest lockdowns of the pandemic, which is thought to have robbed people, especially children, of vital immunity against seasonal illnesses.
China’s Foreign Minister said on Wednesday that the rise in respiratory illnesses in China was a common issue faced by all countries and that Chinese authorities have it under effective control.
‘That is a very common phenomenon in many countries, and in China that has been put under effective control,’ he told reporters at the United Nations in New York.
‘China’s interactions with the international community will not be affected by any factors, and we welcome more visits from friends from across the world,’ he said.
Denmark and the Netherlands are reporting similar surges in pediatric pneumonia, as is Sweden – which did not lock down at all during Covid, raising more questions about the source of the outbreaks.
China’s wave of cases sparked global concern due to its lack of transparency when Covid was first spotted in Wuhan in late 2019, shortly before the virus swept the globe.
And yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) requested more data from China on its outbreak of pneumonia in children.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said the agency was ‘following up with China’ as hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed.