According to CNN, the day after the first case of monkeypox was discovered on Chinese territory, one of the most senior public health officials in China called for not having “skin-to-skin contact with foreigners”. .
Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo on Saturday that the country’s covid-19 restrictions and tight border controls had so far prevented the spread of monkeypox – until one case ‘falls through the cracks’.
“It is necessary and important to strengthen the surveillance and prevention of monkeypox,” Wu wrote in his message, highlighting the risk of the disease spreading through international travel and close contacts. He gave five recommendations for the public – the first being: “Do not have skin-to-skin contact with strangers”.
This case was detected in the municipality of Chongqing, in the southwest of the country. An ‘international arrival’ was in mandatory Covid-19 quarantine when the infection was discovered, local authorities said – however, they did not say whether the person was foreign or Chinese.
Cases of monkeypox, which causes flu-like symptoms and blister-like lesions, began popping up around the world in May. The United States has reported 23,500 cases so far this year, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recommendation sparked controversy on Weibo, with some praising his advice as reasonable and others expressing relief at not knowing many foreigners. “It’s good to open the door to the country, but we can’t let everything in,” wrote one Weibo user.
But others criticized Wu’s post as discriminatory and harmful, with several drawing parallels to the wave of xenophobia and violence Asians abroad faced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s kind of like when the pandemic started, when some people overseas avoided any Chinese people they saw out of fear,” one Weibo user wrote. “I don’t believe these two things have a scientific basis, they are too broad and will exacerbate public panic. »
Others pointed out that there are many foreign workers and long-time residents in China who would not have left the country recently and therefore would not be more likely to be infected than Chinese citizens.
Zero Covid fatigue
The debate over Wu’s post and other warnings shared by Chinese state media highlights the covid fatigue shared by many in mainland China, where nearly three years of strict restrictions have disrupted daily life and plunged the economy in turmoil.
Mainland China has some of the strictest Covid rules in the world, including border restrictions, mandatory quarantines, social distancing requirements and instant lockdowns that have left residents unexpectedly trapped in office buildings or buildings. shopping centers.
At the height of the outbreak in the country this spring, major cities were locked down with little notice and often confusing information 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 basic supplies.