China allows entry of leprosy patients ahead of Olympics

By Xinhua,

Beijing : China has lifted the ban on the entry of foreign visitors suffering from leprosy, two weeks ahead of the Summer Olympics.

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Leprosy sufferers and their relatives from other countries have been allowed to enter China from July 20, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) said Wednesday.

The decision came two months after the organising committee of the Olympic Games issued a guideline June 2 that disallowed entry of foreigners suffering from leprosy, mental illness, sexually transmitted disease, open pulmonary tuberculosis and those who are suspected of committing possible terrorist acts during the Olympic Games Aug 8-24.

“The reason we lifted the ban is that UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution June 18 for the elimination of discrimination against leprosy sufferers,” an official of the GAQSIQ said Thursday.

The official who refused to be named said the new rules would remain in force after the Olympics.

According to the World Health Organisation, leprosy can be transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth of untreated patients, but is not highly infectious.

According to a WHO estimate last year, 224,717 leprosy cases were recorded globally.