Covid: what happens in China and what Italy does

The surge in the Covid-19 wave is putting pressure on Chinese hospitals and funeral homes. In Italy, the Minister of Health orders compulsory Covid swabs for those arriving from China. One in two passengers positive for the coronavirus at Malpensa. Facts, numbers and insights

Coronavirus alarm with the new Covid wave raging in China?

The surge in the Covid-19 wave is putting pressure on Chinese hospitals and funeral homes, the international agency reported on December 28 Reuters. Meanwhile, just the extent of the epidemic ei doubts on official data provided by Beijing prompted some countries to consider new travel rules for Chinese visitors.

Among these Italy. The Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, has in fact ordered the mandatory Covid tests for people arriving on flights from China affected by the virus. The new Chinese wave has prompted the former head of civil protection Guido Bertolaso, current councilor of the Lombardy Region for Welfare, to say that new containment measures may be necessary since almost one in two passengers arriving at Milan Malpensa airport tests positive to the virus.

All the details.


Italy moves. “I have ordered, by ordinance, mandatory Covid 19 antigenic swabs, and related sequencing of the virus, for all passengers coming from China and in transit through Italy. The measure is essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population. I will report in more detail during the Council of Ministers convened today,” said the Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci.

From Saturday 24 December to today, Minister Schillaci followed the outcome of the swabs on passengers arriving at Malpensa from China and recommended the sequencing of all the variants that may emerge from the swabs, the ministry announced. Since last Friday Schillaci has been confronted with the ISS control room for monitoring the progress of the Covid19 infections.


Therefore the passengers disembarked at Fiumicino and coming from China who will test positive on the Covid – informs theHandle from Rome – will be isolated in special structures. Currently there are no longer any covid hotels, dismantled as the emergency ended, but those who test positive will be hosted in ad hoc health facilities that are still active. The test is optional but particular attention, we learn from regional sources, will be reserved for the symptomatic.


Almost one in two passengers, among those who arrived at Malpensa from China on December 26 on board two flights, tested positive for Covid after the non-mandatory swab prepared by the Lombardy Region. “On the first flight – explained Bertolaso ​​– out of 92 passengers there are 35 (38%) positives. In the second, out of 120 passengers 62 (52%) are positive”. Now “we have activated the sequencing procedure – he concluded – tomorrow morning we will have the first results”.

“These are numbers that should make us reflect and draw everyone’s attention” added the former head of the Civil Protection, underlining that the decision to carry out the checks “was not a wrong or risky initiative”.


“The Chinese authorities tell us nothing, on the contrary, from their attitude it seems that nothing is happening. If they tell everyone to go around the world, this is in contradiction with the data we have” Guido Bertolaso ​​said again during a press conference at Palazzo Lombardia after pointing out that from the first results of the swabs done to passengers arriving from China on December 26th it is almost one out of two positives.

“We have activated the sequencing procedure, tomorrow morning we will have the first results – he added – if it were only the omicron variant we will take note of it, we are practically all vaccinated and I don’t think anything particularly stringent will have to be adopted”. If instead, “and we hope not, there should be different variants, perhaps even unknown ones – he explained – it is clear that we will have to proceed in a completely different way and it will be Minister Schillaci and the government who will have to give us the indications”.


The “China problem today must be tackled promptly and with international cohesion. The data, few and not very transparent, are creating fear in the international community, including the scientific one”.

It is a passage from Spallanzani’s document on the “current scenario” of Covid.

The fear “is that, in a country with a high percentage of unvaccinated people in which ineffective vaccines have been used that give low population protection, such a strong exponential growth in infections could generate the selection of a new variant, much more immune-evasive and transmissible”.

The risk, Spallanzani reasons, is that the new variant “ferries the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 beyond Omicron, the dominant variant globally since the end of 2021”. Spallanzani also states that “at the moment, the little information arriving from China indicates that the variants that are fueling this new massive wave of infections are the same ones that have already been circulating globally for some time, therefore still within the sub-variants of Omicron”.


In an abrupt change of policy, China this month began to dismantle the world’s strictest regime of lockdowns and extensive testing for COVID.

Beijing on Monday lifted the quarantine for travelers entering January 8 onwards, dismantling the last remaining piece of its strict zero-Covid policy and ending some of the world’s toughest border restrictions.

But some countries have expressed concern about the potential for new variants as China battles the largest wave of infections in the world, reports ap. The lifting of restrictions means that Covid is spreading largely out of control and likely infecting millions of people a day, according to some international health experts.

The speed with which China, the world’s last major country moving towards treating the virus as endemic, lifted Covid restrictions has left its fragile healthcare system overwhelmed, highlights Reuters. The country reported three new Covid-19-related deaths on Tuesday, up from one for Monday — numbers that are inconsistent with reports from funeral homes, as well as the experience of far less populous countries after reopening.


Suspicions focus on the XBB.1.5 subvariant of the SarsCoV2 virus, also known as Gryphon: this recent member of the Omicron family could be among the causes of the surge in the Covid-19 epidemic in China, alongside the release of the restriction measures. At the moment it is only a hypothesis, the virologist Francesco Brcolo of the University of Salento tells ANSA, but there are many coincidences. The same subvariant, one of the latest additions to the now vast family of the Omicron variant, seems in fact linked to the recent increase in hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States and in particular in New York, where the XBB.1.5 subvariant has increased by 140%. in the last month recording a higher Covid hospitalization rate, higher than that of the Covid wave of summer 2021, due to the Delta variant. “It is true that in China we have passed in a short time from a severe restriction policy to a sudden opening, but it is also true that the population has received a vaccine, Sinovac, with an administration equal to 241 doses per 100 inhabitants , equal to that of the United Kingdom,” he notes. The vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against contagion, 88% against hospitalizations, 90% against severe forms of the disease and 86% against deaths, according to data recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine . If the vaccine situation is not enough to explain the increase in the epidemic in China, even the end of the restrictions is not enough: “something very important is happening, the number of deaths from Covid is uncontrollable and so far – observes Broccolo – it has only hinted at the possibility that one or more new variants are circulating”.


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Covid: what happens in China and what Italy does