Travellers from China will be required to have negative Covid tests before flying to UK

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These sequences detail the genetic composition of each infection and reveal whether the Covid virus has obtained dangerous mutations. If this data is limited, it could blindside the rest of the world should a new variant arise, experts say.

China has also only reported 644,671 cases to Gisaid, according to data publicly available on the platform — a tiny proportion of the 250 million infections estimated by Chinese health officials to have occurred in the 20 days to Christmas.

By contrast, the UK has shared 7,325 Covid sequences with Gisaid over the past month from 138,041 cases, and Denmark has published 8,723 sequences out of 31,629 reported cases – or 27.5 per cent.

Earlier this month, the US and World Health Organization both urged Beijing to be more transparent in sharing data on case counts, disease severity, hospital admission figures and other health statistics that have been made widely available by other nations.

Amid the uncertainty, Malaysia announced on Friday it would screen body temperatures of all inbound travellers, including those from China, to monitor for fever as part of measures to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus. 

Zaliha Mustafa, the country’s health minister, said they would also be introducing tests for Covid on the wastewater from aircraft arriving from China.

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