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Several countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from China amid Covid surge

With Covid cases surging and the Chinese government rolling back the ‘Zero covid policy’, several countries have started imposing restrictions on travellers arriving from China

This comes after China announced on December 25, 2022, that it will no longer publish daily figures of Covid cases and deaths in the country. The National Health Commission (NHC) admitted that tracking the extent of the pandemic outbreak in the country has become “impossible” since mandatory testing was discontinued.

Since China refuses to provide comprehensive data on the pandemic situation in the country, countries are forced to impose certain rules and restrictions on Chinese passengers. 

So far several countries have imposed restrictions such as mandatory negative cover test reports on passengers from China.

United States: On December 28, 2022, announced that it will require COVID-19 tests for travellers from China from January 5 onwards. All air passengers aged two and above will be required to undergo a negative test no later than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong, or Macau. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans should reconsider travelling to China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

(Image via US State Department website)

India: On December 29, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that from January 1st, 2023 onwards, passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. Prior to their departure, they will be required to upload their cover negative report on the Air Suvidha portal. 

United Kingdom: In a press release issued by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care on December 30, 2022, passengers arriving from China to England beginning January 5 will be required to show a negative Covid pre-departure test (PDT) taken no more than two days before departure.

France: Travelers from China will be required to submit a negative Covid test report less than 48 hours prior to departure. From January 1, France will also conduct random Covid testing on some Chinese travellers upon arrival.

Canada: On Saturday, December 31, 2022, the Canadian government announced to put impose certain temporary health measures for air travellers entering Canada from China.

From January 5, all passengers two years of age and older arriving on flights departing from China, Hong Kong, or Macao will be required to show the airline confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test result obtained no more than two days before their departure.

Italy: For all travellers arriving from China, Italy was the first nation in Europe to order COVID-19 antigen swabs and virus sequencing. Malpensa, Milan’s main airport, had already begun testing passengers arriving from Beijing and Shanghai. According to media reports, 50% of travellers arriving from China in recent weeks tested positive at Milan airport.

Spain: On December 30, 2022, Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias said that Spain will require travellers from China to provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of complete vaccination.

Israel: Aryeh Deri, Israel’s Health Minister, announced on Friday new COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers from China. Israeli airlines have been instructed not to allow non-Israelis to take flights from China unless they can provide a negative PCR test.

South Korea: South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo announced on Friday that those arriving from China will be required to provide a negative PCR test within 48 hours of departure or a rapid antigen test within 24 hours, followed by a PCR test after arrival. This will come to effect from January 2nd.

Malaysia: On Friday, Malaysia announced that it would screen all incoming travellers for fever and test wastewater on flights arriving from China, as tourists from that country begin arriving next month despite an increase in COVID-19 cases there.

Japan: Japan: Japan has decided to restrict flights from China, Hong Kong, and Macau to two airports in Tokyo, as well as Osaka and Nagoya. The restrictions will come to effect from January 21.

Taiwan: Taiwan will begin testing arrivals from China for COVID-19 on January 1. According to the country’s Central Epidemic Command Center, all passengers arriving on direct flights from China, as well as via boat at two offshore islands, will be subjected to PCR tests upon arrival.

Australia: Two days after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that Australia is not changing its rules regarding allowing travellers from China into the country. The Australian government has taken a U-turn on Saturday and said that travellers from China, Hong Kong, and Macao must present negative COVID-19 test results. The requirements will apply to all air travellers aged two and up from the three countries beginning on January 5, 2023

It is pertinent to mention that World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed grave concern about reports of severe cases in China, following the country’s withdrawal of its “zero-COVID” policy.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged China to provide more detailed information about the pandemic situation.

“In the absence of comprehensive information from China, it is understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways that they believe may protect their populations,” the WHO Director-General tweeted.

The WHO Director-General also offered support to China for clinical care and protection of its health system.

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