America knows best
Americans are really good at telling other countries what to do, how to run their affairs. For the past year, lots of American pundits have been ridiculing China’s Zero Covid policy. (I am one of those pundits.). There’s a general view that it’s long past time to move beyond Covid, to get back to normal. “Vaxxed and relaxed”.
China has finally decided to take our advice and open up to foreign travel. So how did the US react? Did we celebrate their decision? Here’s the Financial Times:
US will require negative Covid tests for air passengers from China
I predict that most of America’s media won’t even notice the hypocrisy. We are much better at noticing China’s mistakes than our own.
PS. The fig leaf being provided is concern about a possible new mutation of the virus. But there’s no evidence for that claim, and no plan to stop a new variant from circulating here if it did exist.
Dec 28 2022 at 7:33pm
I think China will retaliate by requiring a negative Covid test for U.S. tourists.
Capt. J Parker
Dec 29 2022 at 4:01pm
Documentation of a negative Covid test result has been a requirement to enter China for quite some time. China has not changed the requirement even though they are relaxing other parts of the Zero Covid program.
Dec 28 2022 at 8:10pm
Reports from Italy is that over half of all passengers from China are positive. At this point, they should be grateful they are allowed to land in the first place.
Dec 29 2022 at 12:05am
Why? Covid is already widespread in Italy, just as in America. What possible difference does a few more cases make? I have no doubt that there are many non-Chinese tourists in Italy that also have Covid. Keeping the Chinese out won’t stop almost everyone from eventually getting exposed to Covid.
I understand this argument before the vaccine. But now?
Dec 28 2022 at 10:56pm
This is absolutely right.
Of course, those of us who live in China are not really in a position to criticise, because the Chinese government’s actions have been even more ridiculous – long periods of not allowing anyone in or out at all. In many ways it’s just dumb & dumber.
Grand Rapids Mike
Dec 29 2022 at 10:48am
At least for now, we are not telling other countries to kill their pigs or cows to stop Global Warming
Dec 30 2022 at 12:51am
As COVID tests have become much more widely available than they were at the start of the pandemic, this doesn’t sound like a huge hurdle. We ask people not to come into work when they are sick even as we don’t claim to be aiming for 0 sickness, so asking people to wait out COVID before traveling doesn’t sound that terrible either. This doesn’t require anyone to have a specific vaccine or number of boosters which might vary, but instead just to have a clean test.
Dec 30 2022 at 11:01am
We don’t ask people to take a test before coming to work (in most cases.) Why single out the Chinese? This is politics.
Dec 30 2022 at 2:32pm
Are they not experiencing a huge outbreak right now as they are exposing a lot of people that have been relatively isolated to the virus? Is that fake news?
I don’t know if it’s good policy, but it doesn’t seem facially unreasonable. China has had a stupid policy for a much longer time than most of the world, and as a result of that, their population is suffering from relatively high rates of infection. I’ve never been too concerned with COVID once it became clear relatively early on that it was primarily a danger to the old and/or unhealthy (concerned in the sense of wanting to do unnecessary shutdowns; I just thought it was going to be a tragic pandemic that we lived through that wasn’t nearly as tragic if it had a 1 to 2% case fatality rate for young and healthy people). But it’s still not something you want to be more widespread than you have to. Having people provide a negative test seems like it would substantially cut down on the number of positive cases seeded in the US at relatively low cost? I would agree we don’t need to be watching countries flu, covid, or cold rates and impose testing requirements in the future, but I think a country like China coming off of what is essentially an extended period of isolation is something that might justify testing.
Dec 31 2022 at 12:33pm
“But it’s still not something you want to be more widespread than you have to.”
That is PRECISELY the logic behind China’s failed zero Covid policy. Reduce Covid as much as possible. It’s a horrible idea.
“Having people provide a negative test seems like it would substantially cut down on the number of positive cases seeded in the US at relatively low cost?”
No it would not. China tourists are a drop in the bucket. Hundreds of millions of Americans have already contracted Covid
Dec 31 2022 at 2:21am
During the pandemic I switched to remote work, and when I briefly started going back to the office I was required to take my temperature in advance (actual COVID tests weren’t readily available yet) to get permitted in. Then they scrapped office work again, and I’ve been fully remote ever since.
I agree that China presumably isn’t the only country this should apply to, even though it is a place currently experiencing a large outbreak. But that an idea should be even more widely applied does not seem that like great an argument against applying it somewhere that seems highly applicable.
Dec 31 2022 at 1:11pm
(A) People travelling to China still need a negative virus test 48 hours prior to departure.
(B) It’s quite likely that the Covid wave in China is caused by a new variant. If there is, China would of course not report that. Therefore, we must assume the worst: that there is indeed a new variant circulating in China. As you say, a travel ban won’t stop it spreading eventually, but there is no need to speed things along because it will take time to develop a new vaccine tailored to the new variant.
(C) You can’t buy a liter of milk in China without having to take a Covid test. Thus, if half the passengers on multiple flights are positive, then they are knowingly sending sick people over here. At best that’s bad faith. At worst, they are intentionally trying to seed the West with a new variant for which no booster is available.
Dec 30 2022 at 7:49am
We just cannot let go of Covid apocalypse. I was looking for which entities in America are supporting this policy——and if they will follow up on it. In the good old days it was easy——Trump did it.
But who is leading the charge on this? Biden? McCarthy? CDC? Fauci? Fox News? WaPo and NY Times? Polls? I don’t know.
Dec 30 2022 at 8:23am
I remember when Trump was denounced as racist from the op-ed pages of the NYT for his China travel ban. I have no doubt that if Trump were president today and he instituted the negative test requirement, it would definitely be decried as racist.
Dec 30 2022 at 8:19am
Apparently, Japan, India, Italy, Malaysia, South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan also know best. China’s quarantine rules are still in place (when my brother-in-law moved to Hong Kong, he spent 21 days in a quarantine hotel), though they are expected to be lifted. Do they know best?
If Fazal is correct in saying that half of passengers from China are covid positive, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to require covid tests. That would be a health and safety issue for the workers and others coming in contact with them. If half the people flying in from any location had the flu, it doesn’t seem crazy to require negative test for flu. If covid rates decrease, then it would make sense to scrap the requirement.
This is the least crazy thing the US has done regarding Covid safety.
Dec 30 2022 at 11:51am
Japan, India, Italy, Malaysia, South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan are also imposing a negative test regime on travelers from China, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that (only) the US is trying to tell other countries what to do.
And China’s quarantine policy for visitors is still in place (though is expected to be lifted on Jan. 8. Are they trying to tell other countries what to do because they are/have been imposing restrictions on visitors? [I imagine the answer is actually yes.]
*IF* Fazal is correct about 1/2 the visitors testing positive, it’s not obviously the wrong decision to have a test negative requirement. I’d probably want that kind of requirement for most diseases where passengers had an extremely high positivity rate (even if there are vaccines)… it just seems like a bad idea to knowingly import disease.
And even if you don’t agree with the policy, this seems like one of the least bad policies the US has implemented regarding Covid safety.
Dec 31 2022 at 12:29pm
You misunderstood the post. We tell other countries what to do when we criticize their zero Covid policy, not when we impose test requirements. When they finally agree with us, we turn around and impose this absurd test of airline passengers. Covid is extremely widespread in America; this policy will do nothing. Americans need to understand that they will almost certainly catch Covid; it’s just a matter of time.
Dec 31 2022 at 4:16pm
” We tell other countries what to do when we criticize their zero Covid policy, not when we impose test requirements.”
Gotcha. I misread. But I’d also emphasize that several other countries are doing the same thing.
“When they finally agree with us, we turn around and impose this absurd test of airline passengers.”
I’m not sure I agree with this framing. When other countries decided to open up travel, negative tests and vaccine requirements were part of the deal. Is it the most rational policy? Probably not. But if infection rates are high for passengers, it doesn’t seem like the worst thing to keep people who could be a burden when they get here out of the country. I’d bet that if passengers on flights from any country had 50% positivity rates for most diseases, the CDC would probably start imposing negative test. 50% positive for flu? Require a negative test. 50% positive for syphilis? Require a negative test. If positivity goes down, then revisit the policy.
Yes, at some point everyone will get Covid. We have vaccines and treatments, but with the high positivity on some flights, requiring a negative test seems like an okay policy.
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