A senior Chinese health official has warned people not to come into contact with foreigners, a day after mainland China confirmed its first case of monkeypox.
Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote on the Chinese Twitter-like Weibo platform on Saturday that COVID-19 restrictions and tight border controls have so far prevented the spread of monkeypox — until the case has subsided. through the network.”
This case was detected in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing.
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“International Arrival” was under mandatory COVID-19 quarantine when the infection was detected, according to local authorities – however, they did not say whether the person was a foreigner or Chinese.
Cases of monkeypox, which causes flu-like symptoms and blister-like lesions, began appearing worldwide in May.
The United States has reported 23,500 cases so far this year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is necessary and important to strengthen monitoring and prevention of monkeypox,” Wu wrote in his letter, stressing the risk of the disease spreading through international travel and close contact.
He made five recommendations to the public, the first of which was: “Do not come into contact with aliens.”
The recommendation sparked controversy on Weibo, with some praising his advice as reasonable and some expressing relief that they don’t know many foreigners.
“It’s nice to open the country door, but we can’t let everything in,” one Weibo user wrote.
But others have criticized Wu’s post as discriminatory and harmful, with many similarities to the wave of xenophobia and violence that Asians faced abroad at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One Weibo user wrote: “It’s a bit like when the epidemic started, when some people outside avoided any Chinese they saw out of fear.”
“I don’t think those two things have any scientific basis, they are very broad and would only exacerbate public panic.”
Others noted that there are many foreign workers and long-term residents in China who have not recently left the country, and therefore would not be more susceptible to infection than Chinese nationals.
Another person wrote on Weibo: “When the epidemic first started, some of our foreign friends stood up and used our private platforms to tell everyone, ‘The Chinese are not the virus’.”
“Then, when the local outbreak was brought under control and our foreign friends began to face discrimination, many Chinese with their own platforms were completely silent.”
Covid fatigue, three years later
The controversy over Wu’s post and other warnings by Chinese state media are highlighting coronavirus fatigue shared by many in mainland China, where nearly three years of strict restrictions have disrupted daily life and disrupted the economy.
Mainland China has some of the world’s strictest COVID rules, including border restrictions, mandatory quarantines, social distancing requirements, and sudden closures that have left residents unexpectedly trapped in office buildings or shopping malls at any hint of infection indoors.
At the height of the country’s outbreak this year, major cities were shuttered with little prior notice, often causing confusion from authorities.
Shanghai, for example, was shut down just days after officials insisted there were no plans for such a measure, leaving many of its residents unable to access food, medical care or other essential supplies.
Chinese experts say monkeypox is unlikely to cause such chaos, with state media outlet Global Times reporting on Friday that the disease “does not pose a significant threat,” citing a hospital director.
However, they also urged continued vigilance, with some experts highlighting the need for “strict surveillance” and countermeasures, according to the Global Times.
Monkeypox spreads through close contact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This includes direct physical contact with the lesions or rashes of monkeypox patients, touching objects that patients have used, or “respiratory secretions” that are shared through face-to-face interaction, or sexual contact.
In his Weibo message on Saturday, Wu urged people not to come into close contact with strangers or people recently arrived from abroad; to maintain good hygiene; Use disposable toilet paper or disinfect toilet seats with alcohol wipes before use.
But some on Weibo have responded to those recommendations with frustration and anger, pointing to the many sacrifices they have already made throughout the pandemic – perhaps a sign of the public’s already strained relationship with the authorities.
One person wrote: “We are willing to buy car insurance in case of accidents, but we will not refuse to drive.”
“We will wear face masks to prevent infection with COVID, but we will not refuse to go outside.”
Another user responded to Wu’s guidance, being more blunt: “After how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, do you still trust him?”
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