GOP Senators Call for Travel Ban From China to Prevent Mysterious Pneumonia Surge

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
December 1, 2023US News
GOP Senators Call for Travel Ban From China to Prevent Mysterious Pneumonia Surge
Parents with children suffering from respiratory diseases line up at a children's hospital in Chongqing, China, on Nov. 23, 2023. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Several Republican senators this week called on President Joe Biden to implement a travel ban on China to stop a recent surge in pneumonia cases, including clusters reported in Ohio and Massachusetts.

Late last month, an alert was sent out about a rise in cases of childhood pneumonia in China, which sparked a call for transparency from the U.N. World Health Organization. Since then, cases of pediatric pneumonia have been found in several other countries, although it’s not clear if they’re linked.

The senators, in a letter, cited the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “long history of lying about public health crises” and called on the federal government to take action to protect the U.S. economy and Americans’ health.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCP’s obfuscation of the truth, and lack of transparency, robbed the United States of vital knowledge about the disease and its origin,” the lawmakers wrote. They were referring to accusations that the Chinese regime failed to alert the United States and other worldwide authorities about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which was spreading in central China in late 2019.

“That means we should immediately restrict travel between the United States and [China] until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness,” the GOP senators wrote. “A ban on travel now could save our country from death, lockdowns, mandates, and further outbreaks later.”

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) signed the letter. They also pointed to a travel ban that was implemented by former President Donald Trump in early 2020 that targeted China.

“Many officials and commentators—including you—criticized his decision as being influenced by ‘xenophobia.’ But history and common sense show his decision was the right one,” they wrote to President Biden.

No Comment From White House

So far, the White House has made no public comments about the surge in the mystery Chinese cases. In a statement to The Epoch Times earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that agency officials are in contact with their Chinese counterparts but have released few details since then.

CDC Director Mandy Cohen told lawmakers this week that “we believe there is no new or novel pathogen” that is causing the spike in cases in China. She said the cases “are related to existing pathogens [like] COVID, flu, RSV,” and mycoplasma.

In late November, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel called on the CCP to be more transparent.

“China’s recent pneumonia outbreak raises serious questions, and the World Health Organization is asking them. It’s time to abandon COVID deception and delays as transparent and timely information saves lives,” wrote Mr. Emanuel, the former Democrat mayor of Chicago and formerly an Obama White House official, on social media.

Chinese regime officials, meanwhile, have claimed the rise in cases can be attributed to RSV, COVID-19, influenza, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a type of bacteria that can cause “walking pneumonia.” The WHO’s statement last week said that it is monitoring the situation and has requested more information.

But the Republican senators wrote the United States “should not wait for the WHO to take action given its track record of slavish deference to the CCP,” referring to previous criticisms that WHO hasn’t been transparent in reporting on the origins of COVID-19 and allegations that WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has a close relationship with the CCP.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the head of the WHO’s department of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, told the heath news website Stat that the Chinese disease isn’t as high as what was seen in 2019 or 2018, or before the rise of COVID-19.

“We asked if anything new was detected, any new variants, any new subtypes? And the answer was no. We asked if [they] have seen any unusual disease presentations for these pathogens. And they said no. And then they gave us an overview of the burden in the health care facilities, and their hospitals are not overwhelmed,” Ms. Van Kerkhove said.

NTD Photo
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks in Washington on March 8, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Cases in US

Authorities in Ohio and Massachusetts have confirmed an increase cases of pediatric pneumonia in recent weeks, according to statements issued earlier in the week.

The Warren County Health District in Ohio announced 142 cases of pediatric pneumonia since August 2023. They also noted that the figure is above the county’s average and meets the state’s definition of an outbreak.

The Ohio officials added that they “do not think this is a novel/new respiratory disease but rather a large uptick in the number of pneumonia cases normally seen at one time.” They further said that students should wash their hands, cover their coughs, and stay home when they’re sick.

In Massachusetts, cases of childhood pneumonia have also been reported, according to local media outlets.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.