China's border reopening significant for Singapore: Health Minister

2023-01-10 Editor : Zhao Li ECNS App Download

(ECNS) -- China's borders reopening is an important milestone for the world to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and also what many countries, industries, enterprises, families, and people have long expected, manifesting a significant stage for Singapore, said Ong Ye Kung, Singapore's Minister for Health on Monday.

Despite China's big infection wave in December 2022, Ong said Singapore had detected about 200 COVID-positive travelers from China, accounting for less than 5 percent of imported COVID-19 cases, and less than 1 percent of the total cases in the country.

Ong explained that Singapore will not impose pre-departure tests on travelers from China as severe cases can originate from anywhere.

There have been no severe cases coming from China since Jan. 1, he said.

He attributed the low imported infections to low travel volumes between the two countries, high vaccination rates and Singapore's current test requirement for travelers who are not fully vaccinated.

Currently, Singapore runs 38 weekly flights from China, receiving between 700 and 1,000 arrivals every day, less than 10 percent of pre-pandemic figures.

The minister emphasized that new strains may originate from any country or region, so monitoring new strains requires effective monitoring systems globally.

China's regional CDCs are actively monitoring new strains and uploading the latest virus genome sequence information weekly, which is analyzed by an office of the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) set up in Singapore, he said.

The analysis shows that the current dominant strains in China are BA.5.2 and BF.7, which have been found in Singapore and other regions a few months ago, while there are more than 650 sub-variants of Omicron currently under circulation across the globe, he added.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stressed that in the fight against COVID, China has always put the people and their lives above all else.

He said that China has all along shared information on its monitoring of the mutation of the virus and infected groups with the international community in a timely, open and transparent manner.

China has carried out over 60 technical exchanges with the WHO over the past three years, including four in the last month alone. Besides, we continue to share the genome data of the virus from the latest COVID cases in China via the GISAID, he added.

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