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Business News/ News / Walking Pneumonia: Will China face travel ban? 5 Senators urge Biden to impose tourist restrictions, China reacts
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Walking Pneumonia: Will China face travel ban? 5 Senators urge Biden to impose tourist restrictions, China reacts

Five Republican senators led by Marco Rubio have urged President Biden to impose a travel ban between the US and China amid reports of a surge in respiratory illnesses among children in China.

The advice by DGCA comes after India’s flight safety rankings was downgraded by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US regulator. Photo: Hindustan TimesPremium
The advice by DGCA comes after India’s flight safety rankings was downgraded by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US regulator. Photo: Hindustan Times

Amid reports of a surge in respiratory illnesses among children in China, five Republican senators led by Marco Rubio on Friday have written to President Joe Biden's administration to impose a travel ban between the United States and China.

In a letter signed by Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with Senators J.D. Vance, Rick Scott, Tommy Tuberville and Mike Braun said, “We should immediately restrict travel between the United States and (China) until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness."

Last week, the World Health Organisation requested additional information from China regarding the increase in cases, citing a study on pediatrics pneumonia cases that went undetected by the Programme for Monitoring Emerging Diseases.

Also Read: What is China's 'Walking Pneumonia' that has put India on alert? Check symptoms, prevention and more

In a statement released on November 23, 2023, WHO disclosed China's National Health Commission's (NHC) update on the increase in respiratory disease incidences addressed at a press conference on 13 November 2023. This increase was attributed to the lifting of restrictions on COVID-19 and the circulation of known pathogens like influenza, mycoplasma pneumonia (a bacterial infection usually seen in children under the age of five), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). The health system must be strengthened to handle patients and enhance disease surveillance in healthcare facilities and communities.

A Biden administration official said the United States was closely monitoring the uptick in respiratory illnesses in China, but added, "We are seeing seasonal trends. Nothing is appearing out of the ordinary. ... At this time, there is no indication of a link between the people seeking care in U.S. emergency departments and the outbreak of respiratory illness in China."

Also Read: Karnataka, Uttarakhand on alert following China pneumonia outbreak. Read do's and don'ts of advisory here

In response to Rubio's letter, the spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, said, "The relevant claims are purely ill-intentioned fabrications. China firmly opposes them."

Maria Van Kerkhove, acting director of the WHO's Department of Epidemic and pandemic preparedness and Prevention, said earlier this week the increase appeared to be driven by a rise in the number of children contracting pathogens that they had avoided during two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

Although travel between the US and China has been increasing over the past few months, it is still far below the levels seen in 2019. On November 9, the allowed amount increased from 12 per week in August to 35 per week for each country.

In January 2020, then-President Donald Trump barred most non-US citizens who had recently been in China from entering the United States over COVID-19 concerns but did not restrict flights between the two countries.

The United States lifted the unprecedented travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international visitors starting in November 2021, including from China. The US rescinded a separate requirement that air travellers test negative before arriving in June 2022.

The United States in January had started requiring air passengers to get negative COVID tests after Beijing decided to lift its stringent zero-COVID policies but lifted the requirements in March.

Common symptoms

The symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in children younger than 5 years of age may differ from those in older children and adults. In contrast, they may experience the following cold-like symptoms, according to CDC include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, watery eyes, wheezing, vomiting, and diarrhea.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Published: 02 Dec 2023, 10:39 AM IST
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