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Updates on China’s COVID Situation (December 29, 2022): Half of China Arrivals on Two Flights to Italy Tested Positive

Dec. 30, 2022

(Minghui.org) Milan Malpensa Airport, the largest airport in northern Italy, started a new mandate on December 26 that requires COVID-19 testing for passengers from China, given the recent rise of cases in the country. Nearly half of the passengers on two flights, from Beijing and Shanghai, tested positive.

“On the first flight, 35 out of 92 passengers (38%) were positive. On the second, 62 out of 120 passengers (52%) are positive,” remarked Guido Bertolaso, Lombardy regional councilor for welfare, during a press conference on December 28.

According to Reuters, Bertolaso explained that this new testing measure is “essential to ensure surveillance and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population.” After the pandemic started in early 2020, Italy was the first European country that was hit hard by the disease.

“The Hospital is Just Overwhelmed From Top to Bottom”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently lifted the three-year-long zero-COVID policy, during which many citizens were under a military-style lockdown. With no further measures planned, the end of the zero-COVID policy was followed by an explosion of infections and deaths. In major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing, medical facilities and staff workers were overwhelmed by the large number of patients.

Both hospitals and crematories are strained, reported VOA. Howard Bernstein, a Beijing-based doctor, said he had never seen anything like this, after practicing emergency medicine for over 30 years. Patients arrived at his hospital in ever-increasing numbers, especially the elderly. Many of them suffered severe COVID-19 and pneumonia symptoms. “The hospital is just overwhelmed from top to bottom,” Bernstein added.

Reuters reported that healthcare workers in Huaxi hospital in the city of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, said they have been extremely busy taking care of infected patients. “I’ve been doing this job for 30 years and this is the busiest I have ever known it,” said an ambulance driver. “Almost all of the patients have Covid,” one emergency department pharmacy staff member added. With no Covid medicines available, they could only use cough medicines.

“Parking lots around the Dongjiao funeral home, one of the largest in Chengdu, were full. Funeral processions were constant as smoke billowed from the crematorium,” wrote a Reuters report on December 28.

Order from Higher Officials: Avoid Calling the Disease Pneumonia

Song, a doctor working at a hospital in Qiqihar of Heilongjiang Province, told The Epoch Times on December 27 that almost all patients he saw had fever and pneumonia. His department head said that the disease was not flu or upper respiratory infection. Rather, it had caused severe damage to the lungs. The symptoms also varied. Some patients had their entire body aching to the bone, some could not drink or eat due to sore throat, and some were in pain even when breathing. “Many doctors and nurses in the hospital were infected, but they forced themselves to stay here,” Song said. “Every day we hear coworkers coughing off to the side. Only when having a high fever are we allowed to go home for a rest.”

China’s National Health Commission renamed “novel coronavirus pneumonia” to “novel coronavirus infection” on December 26, and downgraded the disease from Class A to Class B (which no longer requires quarantine). A netizen with the username @wuwenhang wrote on Twitter on December 28 that he and his coworkers received a notice from provincial officials to avoid attributing the deaths to pneumonia.

Central News Agency reported on December 28 that Hong Kong had 20,865 new Covid cases that day. In addition, 59 people died of the disease the day before.

The United States announced on December 28 that all travelers from China would be required to show a negative COVID-19 test result beginning January 5 before boarding the flight. The requirement will apply both to passengers flying directly to the United States from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, as well to passengers flying through a third country.

Similarly, Japan required inbound passengers from China to have COVID tests starting on December 31, and Taiwan plans to implement such a measure beginning January 1. This means that passengers arriving on direct flights from mainland China, as well as from Taiwan's outlying Kinmen and Matsu islands, must undergo on-arrival COVID-19 testing.

Gene sequencing will also be conducted to track new virus variants. “Right now the pandemic situation in China is not transparent,” explained Wang Pi-Sheng, the head of Taiwan’s epidemic command center, to The Associated Press on December 29.