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Global Times

'Fast track' to be strictly managed not suspended amid Japan and South Korea's new surge

Global Times

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/27 17:35:26

The "fast track" between China, South Korea and Japan might be affected due to the surging epidemic in these two countries. With more sources and chains of coronavirus from abroad being found in China, experts believe that anti-pandemic measures will be prioritized in these countries and stricter measures will be applied.

The "fast track" is a "work-resumption expressway" for the personnel exchanges between foreign-invested enterprises amid the virus outbreak. China has set up a fast track with Singapore and South Korea, and scheduled to open another with Japan at the end of November.

However, the "fast track" has been clouded by the resurgence of the coronavirus in some countries.

Japan and South Korea reported 1,861 and 569 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, respectively, and both countries are seen as experiencing a third wave. South Korea reported 583 new cases on Wednesday, the highest number for a single day in the nine months since March. Meanwhile, on November 21, Japan recorded more than 2,500 new cases in a single day for the first time since the pandemic outbreak.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the next three weeks are vital to contain the epidemic and people should actively cooperate with the government, wear masks, wash their hands frequently, and avoid crowded places. Japan's economic revitalization minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, said on Thursday that Japan will declare a state of emergency if COVID-19 spreads further, Xinhua News Agency reported.

South Korea's disease control and prevention authority said on Thursday that it expects the spread of COVID-19 in the country to continue this week and will discuss further upgrading of its epidemic response level if necessary, Xinhua reported.

Liu Jiangyong, vice dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that the new surge in Japan and South Korea is likely to mean stricter inspections for the fast track service, but it won't be closed or canceled.

The Chinese and Japanese governments reached a consensus on setting up a "fast track" to facilitate the flow of people — including commercial exchanges — on the basis of strict virus prevention and containment at the end of November. In late April, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced China and South Korea would establish a "fast track" for personnel urgently needed in key businesses, logistics, production and technical services.

China is at risk of imported infections and recent cases have shown that not only people, but also cold chains products and containers, are at risk of carrying the virus.

The fast track is likely to shrink in its passenger quantity, and customs may impose stricter quarantine measures, said Liu, noting that strict epidemic prevention measures form the premise of resuming work and production.

Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times that fast-track programs and international flights feature sound and strict epidemic prevention measures, such as nucleic acid tests and quarantine periods. With the proper measures in place, there's no need to suspend personnel exchanges.

China has developed a complete epidemic prevention system with sufficient prevention materials and facilities, Yang said.

China' National Health Commission reported 5 cases on the Chinese mainland on Thursday, all imported cases.

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