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Jan Finster

Coronavirus - those in China, and general discussion

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mungouk

There are plenty of reports of flights to China being back on again right now. 

 

The issue seems to be that if you need a visa, you won't be able to get one, and if you already have one from before 28 March it's not currently being accepted.

 

Here's the current (12 June) IATA travel advisory to the mainland, via this map.

 

Quote

Published 12.06.2020
1. The mainland of China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into the mainland of China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 00:00 local time, 28 March 2020. Entry by foreign nationals with APEC Business Travel Cards will be suspended as well.
- Policies including port visas, 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, Hainan 30-day visa-free policy, 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign cruise-group-tour through Shanghai Port, Guangdong 144-hour visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups from Hong Kong or Macao SAR, and Guangxi 15-day visa-free policy specified for foreign tour groups of ASEAN countries will also be temporarily suspended. Entry with diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected.
- Foreign nationals coming to the mainland of China for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs may apply for visas at Chinese embassies or consulates.
- Entry by foreign nationals with visas issued after this announcement will not be affected.
2. All passengers arriving at PEK will have a PCR test and be quarantined at the designated location in Beijing for 14 days.
3. Passengers arriving at Shanghai Pudong (PVG) or Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) must undergo a Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) and a 14-day quarantine in designated places for medical observation.
4. Passengers who live in or have been in France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Spain or USA in the past 14 days arriving at Guangzhou (CAN) or Shenzhen (SZX) must undergo 14-day quarantine at home or in designated places for medical observation. All passengers arriving at SZX will have a PCR test.
5. All passengers arriving at XMN will be quarantined for medical observation at the designated hotels for 14 days on their own expenses.
- This does not apply to passengers under 18 years old, passengers above 70 years old, pregnant women and passengers suffering from illness. They must apply for permission to undergo a 14-day quarantine at home.
6. Airline crew of foreign airlines:
- are not required to undergo nucleic acid test if they have a short stay after landing then depart immediately, and do not leave apron during the transition; OR
- shall receive nucleic acid test in the first port of entry if they need to enter the country to rest or continue to operate domestic routes. The test results will be confirmed by the local government in accordance with the requirements of epidemic prevention management. Only if the test results are negative, crews can continue the operations; OR
- are allowed to return to their home country for isolation treatment when agreed by the local joint control mechanism, if they are symptomatic, in close contact with infected persons or tested positive. Airlines and crews shall make all commitments to bear their responsibilities and also carry out strict protections.
7. A QR code generated from a completed "Health Declaration Form" must be presented to immigration upon arrival. The form can be obtained before departure at http://health.customsapp.com/ .

 

 

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roddy

There's a hint here about a possible reciprocal arrangement EU - China, but that a) might not happen and b) could be just for tourists. 

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Jan Finster
6 hours ago, pan.kasper said:

I've been stuck in South Korea for more than 4 months now without anything on me, getting really depressed here

 

How are you spending your time in South Korea? Are you at a Chinese language school?

 

Waiting for China to reopen its borders must be really frustrating. If I would have to guess, I would say it is not happening 2020. And if I am really pessimistic, I would say it is not happening until we have a vaccine or a fool proof way to show you have immunity (like a reliable antibody test).

 

Any chance you can go to to Australia or NZ and apply for a working holiday VISA and earn some money while you wait? Or go home?

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mungouk

@pan.kasper what does your university say?  Aren't they communicating with their overseas students at all?

I don't see how they could prevent you from re-entering China once the visa restrictions are relaxed (unless they revoke your visa/residence permit somehow), but I think they are quite likely to insist on a period of quarantine.

 

 

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pan.kasper
10 hours ago, mungouk said:

The issue seems to be that if you need a visa, you won't be able to get one, and if you already have one from before 28 March it's not currently being accepted.

 

That's exactly the problem, I have a residence permit from last year that is valid until September 2020, but it seems that i won't be able to use it to come back. Another problem is, that if they won't allow me to return until September, i will need to get a new visa. It will be hard as all the documents required for the visa applications i left in China
 

 

8 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

How are you spending your time in South Korea? Are you at a Chinese language school?

 

Waiting for China to reopen its borders must be really frustrating. If I would have to guess, I would say it is not happening 2020. And if I am really pessimistic, I would say it is not happening until we have a vaccine or a fool proof way to show you have immunity (like a reliable antibody test).

 

Any chance you can go to to Australia or NZ and apply for a working holiday VISA and earn some money while you wait? Or go home?

Been doing a little bit of unpaid internship, writing my master thesis and generally using the opportunity to explore Korea a bit. It's not the worst but i'm struggling to survive with the little money I have. At this point, I would welcome any opportunity to return to China, I wouldn't mind going through quarantine (even two quarantines, in Korea and China, why not!), as many COVID tests as they deem necessary, just let me back in 😅
Not a bad idea with Australia or NZ but I'm pretty sure their borders are shut tight. Will definitely consider if they reopen before China.

 

6 hours ago, mungouk said:

what does your university say?  Aren't they communicating with their overseas students at all?

I don't see how they could prevent you from re-entering China once the visa restrictions are relaxed (unless they revoke your visa/residence permit somehow), but I think they are quite likely to insist on a period of quarantine.

 

I think I'm in a somewhat unusual situation, most of the students who left China for the winter break went back home. I went travelling instead. Even in the official notes by the university, they tell students who are outside of China to stay in their home country. As if nobody even thought that we may not be in our home country in the first place??


Funny thing is that I was only supposed to stay in Korea for about 3 hours, as I had my layover here, but then the second leg of my flight got cancelled and i've been stuck ever since. It's been at the beginning of March. After my ticket got cancelled I wanted to book a new one, but then I saw the notice from my uni that students outside of China are not allowed to return. At first I thought that I could just disregard it, especially since I don't even live on-campus. But then i started hearing rumours that people who returned got severely punished, many lost their scholarships. Again, not sure if that would happen to me but didn't want to risk it. Decided  to stay for a couple weeks in Korea believing that this is probably just temporary and it will be open again soon. The rest you probably know..


Anyway, that's what i'm also worried about - borders reopening but university still expressly prohibiting students to come back. My friends who are in China tell me that they are still extremelly strict about letting people out of the campus (many are not even allowed to do that) while everything else in China is basically back to business as usual. 

 

And to make my life even harder, since April universities have stopped sending out scholarships for students who are outside of mainland China. 

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Dawei3
19 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

not happening until we have a vaccine

Last week, I heard a talk by one of the world's top vaccine experts and he noted we're being very over-optimistic regarding the vaccine.  Many of the technologies being tried have never been used or worked before.  Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer (a good newspaper) portrayed an individual known as the "father of DNA vaccines" because he pioneered the technology over 30 years ago.  However, the article also noted that zero safe & effective DNA vaccines have been created (hence, a DNA vaccine might work for covid, but just "might").

 

Even companies that have made vaccines for decades struggle to make them.  Sometimes manufacturing of a vaccine stops for 1 to 2 years because some problem is happening.  All are grown biologically, so diagnosing the problems are difficult (it's not like troubleshooting chemical synthesis).  Sometimes trace impurities impact the microbes that make the vaccines.  Trying to make enough of any vaccine for the world is really difficult.  

 

In addition, vaccines have to achieve an extremely high level of safety, much much more than drugs, because vaccines are given to healthy people.  In addition, this vaccine would be given to those of every age - something that also presents safety challenges.   

 

I fully support all of the vaccine research.  The good aspect is that the world is trying to create a vaccine so many ways, one may work.  However, until that time we need enhanced use of masks & social distancing (following the lead of China, Korea & NZ). 

 

Notably in my country, the US, CDC just said the virus is spreading too fast to control.  At least our Vice President is finally starting to support the use of masks (but the same news report noted he attended a choir practice where people didn't use masks, so he's not yet fully aware of the risks).  

 

 

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abcdefg

Continuing the topic of vaccine development, saw this yesterday in SCMP (South China Morning Post.) 

 

Quote

 

China’s military becomes world’s first to use experimental coronavirus vaccine

·        Candidate developed by the PLA and CanSino Biologics added to armed forces’ list for one year

·        Proposed vaccine still to go through phase three clinical trials and cannot be used on civilians

 

China has approved military use of an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by the People’s Liberation Army and a Chinese pharmaceutical company, in a first for the armed forces of any country.

 

The vaccine, identified as Ad5-nCoV, was jointly developed by a team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, led by Major General Chen Wei, and Tianjin-based company CanSino Biologics

It is the first time that a vaccine candidate for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has been authorised for use for the military of any nation.

CanSino said on Monday that the candidate had been through two phases of clinical trials, which indicated it was safe and there was “relatively high” immune response to the antigen.

 

 

Here's the source. The article has more in-depth discussion as well as some video. 

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mungouk
On 6/16/2020 at 10:38 AM, mungouk said:

The UK Visa For China office in London is starting phased re-opening as of today, 16 June, although at present this is only for a very limited set of circumstances.

 

According to their websites, recently updated:

Both currently have the same limitations as London on the visa types that can be applied for.

 

(Belfast is still showing the closure notice from 27 March.)

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Dawei3
On 6/30/2020 at 11:42 AM, abcdefg said:

Here's the source. The article has more in-depth discussion as well as some video. 

Thanks for posting the source for those wishing more background info.  I'll note that ALL of the vaccines in development show immune activity (if they didn't, they would be cancelled).  However, triggering an immune response doesn't mean they will provide protection from SARS Cov-2.  

 

Some Covid-19 vaccines have undergone/are undergoing "Phase I" and "Phase II" clinical trials.  Phase I determines tolerability.  Phase II explores dose response, i.e., how much of a dose do you need to cause a response.  Both Phase I & II trials give some information on safety.  However, Phase II trials typically involve, at most, a few hundred people.  In contrast, Phase III trials, which study efficacy and safety, involve thousands of people when drugs are tested and 10s of thousands when vaccines are tested.  The vaccine Rotateq had 70,000 people worldwide in its Phase III trial.  

 

In addition to showing the risks of the vaccine, Phase III also informs the efficacy;  how much protection will the vaccine provide and for how long.  In contrast, a Phase II trial in a few hundred people doesn't give enough information to know how safe/dangerous a vaccine will be in the population.  

 

Jumping from Phase II trials into the military is slightly more acceptable ethically because the military will have young & healthy people and we know that Covid-19 is more dangerous to the elderly.  (this said, many countries wouldn't do this.)

 

For those who want an in-depth look at the vaccines in development, including CanSino, check out:  https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/06/29/coronavirus-vaccine-update-june-29  For those who don't have time to look, one issue with the CanSino vaccine is that it uses a common virus as its vector.  As a result, many people already have immunity to the vector.  This can be bad because the body may attack the common virus before the body has a chance to build immunity to SARS Cov-2.  We need Phase III trials to know whether this vaccine really works and what the side effects might be.

 

To be clear, I fully support all of the vaccine studies.  We don't know now which one (if any) might be effective nor the level of risk each poses.  The more candidates we test, the more likely we''ll find a safe & effective vaccine.  It's a challenge for the world (my soapbox for the day.....) 

 

(I always like it when others in this group offer their expertise on different things, so I'm offering this)

 

 

 

  

 

 

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mungouk

Excellent summary in that sciencemag blog post, thanks @Dawei3 !

 

One thing I'm still not able to pick out of all the discussions I've seen online... do we actually know that it's possible to be immune long-term from COVID-19 by generating — and maintaining —  a certain level of antibodies?

 

I haven't seen a definitive statement that says we do, but on the other hand I've read in some places that antibodies in some people who've recovered (or were asymptomatic, not sure?) have only lasted for 2-3 months. 

 

 

Edit: OK, to partly answer my own question, I just came across this in the NYT:
 

Quote

 

Does everyone infected with the virus produce antibodies — and if so, how long do they last?
 

Not very long, suggests a new study published Thursday in Nature Medicine. Antibodies — protective proteins made in response to an infection — may last only two to three months, especially in people who never showed symptoms while they were infected.
 

The conclusion does not necessarily mean that these people can be infected a second time, several experts cautioned. Even low levels of powerful neutralizing antibodies may still be protective, as are the immune system’s T cells and B cells.
 

But the results offer a strong note of caution against the idea of “immunity certificates” for people who have recovered from the illness, the authors suggested.

 

 

You May Have Antibodies After Coronavirus Infection. But Not for Long. New York Times, 28 June 2020. (paywall)

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/health/coronavirus-antibodies.html

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Dawei3

This MIT review notes 2 things: we have no idea how long immunity will last and suggests only 2-3 months of protection may be possible.  However, it also notes there has been no concrete evidence of someone being re-infected after recovery.  

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/06/19/1004169/biggest-questions-about-immunity-to-covid-19/

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/27/1000569/how-long-are-people-immune-to-covid-19/

 

Recently I heard a talk by a vaccine expert.  He noted for these types of respiratory viruses, natural immunity usually lasts only for 1 year.  It's due to the fact that immune response is local (in the respiratory tract) and isn't systemic.   However, he said with Covid-19, we still have lots to learn.   (the MIT article links to a pre-print from Columbia that says re-infection from the common cold coronavirus can happen 2 x per year.  I didn't read the paper).  

 

What I do know is that the ~1 year of protection wouldn't be for the same reason you need a yearly flu vaccine.  This is needed because the flu virus constantly mutates and there are many active strains of the virus.  Although SARS Cov-2 has shown mutations, it doesn't look like it mutates has quickly as the flu.    

 

Although the MIT article gives ideas on how long immunity might last, their phrase "we really have no idea yet" is likely the most accurate.  

 

(Mungouk:  when I posted the above & mentioned that I hearing people offer their expertise on different things, I was thinking in-part of your ability to read code/know software)

 

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mungouk
On 7/1/2020 at 10:42 PM, Dawei3 said:

(I always like it when others in this group offer their expertise on different things, so I'm offering this)

 

Thanks @Dawei3 — any attempt to raise the level of discourse is very much appreciated. 👍

 

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StChris

Although the shops and restaurants around my place have definitely been quieter than usual, I really haven't seen any actually shop closures, and that led me to believe that businesses were weathering the storm ok. The only exception was a small (but delicious) muslim place I used to frequent, but even that finally opened for business earlier this week. It was only after I made a trip to the Carrefour supermarket near my school for the first time in months that I realised that I had been in a bit of a bubble.

 

While the more higher end areas seem to be relatively ok, the ore downmarket mall hosting the Carrefour had a real desolate feel about it. It was pretty much empty, apart from a few bored and desperate looking shop staff, and around half of the shops had already closed up:

 

IMG_20200630_152229735.jpg

 

IMG_20200630_153749594.jpg

 

IMG_20200630_153813347.jpg

 

On a happier note, with the lack of school and the hot summer weather, skateboarding seems to be experiencing a bit of a revival. It's not just at this little skating park outside the mall, I'm seeing lots of younger kids carefully riding skateboards around my apartment gardens too. Is skateboarding becoming popular again in other countries too, or is this just a Chinese phenomenon?

 

IMG_20200630_191108276.jpg

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Jan Finster

Just a quick question about visas: as I understand it previously issued visas are currently invalid. If COVID is over, will you have to reapply for a new visa or will the old visa be valid again? Do you guys think they will add the lost months since the travel ban to previously issued visas and thereby extend their expiry date? [I know, I am probably dreaming to even ask this   😅]

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mungouk
28 minutes ago, Jan Finster said:

will you have to reapply for a new visa or will the old visa be valid again?

 

When I applied for my Z-visa earlier this year in the UK they said to me in the visa application centre: "Do you realise that if this expires before you get to China then you will have to apply for a new one?".

 

I did it anyway, and it expired at the start of June after the 3 months were up.

 

If you already have a residence permit (not the same as a visa) then presumably it will be acceptable again once the restrictions have been lifted.  But... who knows for sure?

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ChTTay
56 minutes ago, mungouk said:

If you already have a residence permit (not the same as a visa) then presumably it will be acceptable

I wouldn't presume that though.

 

I know the embassy and a few of the bigger schools in Beijing have been preparing the paperwork required to apply for Z visas (and then residence permits). This is on the assumption that they may remain cancelled even after opening up. 

As no one knows it’s hard to say either way! Hopefully they do allow use of valid RP’s and don’t make everyone go through the hassle of reapplying ... but if they want tighter controls on who comes into the country then I could see them making everyone reapply. 

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Flickserve

Hong Kong is seeing a spike in cases over the last few days. Admittedly low compared with some places across the world.

 

There are certain loopholes/exemptions in the quarantine for certain occupations. These are being tightened.

 

Life otherwise has normalised. Restaurants are busy - I think because some already closed leaving the rest to pick up business. Vigilance with masks is pretty good, hand hygiene I suspect less so.

 

it will be interesting to see how this spike in cases pans out in a community with high awareness. I hope we will not return to the clampdowns earlier on.

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889

"Restrictions at restaurants will be tightened again with effect from Saturday midnight for 14 days as newly confirmed coronavirus cases spiked recently. No more than eight customers are allowed at each table, the number of customers inside the restaurant must not exceed 60 percent of total capacity, distance between each tables must be at least 1.5 meters or some form of partition between one table and another, and face masks must be worn when not eating. Other measures include no more than four people per table at bars and no food and drinks inside movie theaters and public entertainment venues."

 

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/150599/Restaurant-restrictions-tightened-again

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