China and Covid-19: Should we worry about travelers from China?


Malaysia To Receive 1,286 Average Daily China Arrivals This Week

By Boo Su-Lyn | 2 January 2023

With 1,286 passengers on direct flights from China arriving in Malaysia every day on average this week, assuming half are infected, that amounts to 643 daily imported Covid-19 cases, adding 120% to Malaysia’s current reported caseload of 538 daily cases.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 – Flight tracking data shows 30 direct passenger flights from China are scheduled to arrive in Malaysia this week from today until Sunday, ahead of China reopening borders on January 8.

According to global flight tracking service Flightradar24 – which was accessed by CodeBlue yesterday – 11 flights are scheduled to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Xiamen, eight from Shanghai, four from Guangzhou, three from Fuzhou, two from Xi’an, and two from Changsha in that period.

Assuming a 300-seat capacity in the planes, the 30 direct flights from China to Kuala Lumpur from January 2 to 8 amount to carrying 9,000 passengers over one week, or 1,286 arrivals a day on average.

Italian health authorities reportedly said last Wednesday that nearly half of the passengers on two recent flights arriving in Milan from China had tested positive for Covid-19, leading Italy to mandate on-arrival Covid-19 antigen swabs for all travellers coming from China and genome virus sequencing.

Assuming a 50 per cent positivity rate for travellers from China visiting Malaysia, the estimated 1,286 daily arrivals over this week translate to about 643 imported Covid-19 cases a day – just from arrivals from China.

This adds 120 per cent to Malaysia’s current reported caseload of 538 daily Covid-19 cases, based on a seven-day average last December 31, according to the KKMNow site. Confirmed coronavirus infections nationwide have been declining since peaking early November, in line with testing, though the positivity rate currently remains at below 4 per cent.

Infectious disease and public health experts, however, told CodeBlue that local measures like wearing face masks and getting boosted with the mRNA vaccine were more important than border controls, saying that banning visitors from China would not prevent outbreaks or the entry of new variants into Malaysia.

“We should make informed decisions and avoid being influenced by the fear of the unknown,” said Prof Dr Sanjay Rampal, a professor of epidemiology and public health at Universiti Malaya, who stressed that the more important question is whether any new variants emerging from China’s outbreak will cause more severe disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO), after meeting with high-level health Chinese officials last December 30, issued a statement urging China to share data on its Covid epidemiological situation, including more genetic sequencing data, to help China and other countries form accurate risk assessments and to inform effective responses.




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