China and other Asian countries are now trying to prevent imported cases of the coronavirus after reducing the number of new cases inside their borders, The Associated Press reports.
China, South Korea, and Japan have expanded border controls as part of an effort that mirrors other countries’ earlier restrictions on travelers from China, where the outbreak began.
Though the outbreak is far from controlled, the number of new cases in China dropped to just eight on Friday, three of which were imported from overseas.
China, which struggled to contain the outbreak weeks earlier, is now providing aid to Italy, Iran, South Korea, and other affected countries.
Officials say peak has passed:
National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said that China believes the peak of the outbreak has passed but “the fast development of the epidemic overseas has introduced uncertainties.”
Beijing said it would require anyone arriving from overseas to quarantine for 14 days. Shanghai has imposed similar restrictions on travelers from the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Iran, South Korea, and Japan.
South Korea has also seen a decline in new cases and has announced new screening programs for some European and Middle Eastern travelers.
Travelers will now be required to check their temperature and fill out a health questionnaire when entering the country.
Japan imposed a 14-day quarantine for travelers from South Korea and China.
China searches for patient zero:
Chinese researchers tracked the first known case of the coronavirus to November 17 but do not believe they have identified the first person who contracted the virus.
But some Chinese officials have pushed a conspiracy theory that the virus was brought in by the US Army. US officials have, in turn, referred to the virus as the “Wuhan virus” or the “Chinese coronavirus.”
“Epidemics always have become political,” Jonathan Mayer, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, told The Guardian. “Governments seem opposed to admitting that things were handled imperfectly, yet it is only by identifying the imperfections and shortcomings that things can be addressed to do a better job next time. With emerging infections, there will always be a next time.”