Several countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from China because of a surge in COVID-19 infections after the country rolled back its stringent “zero-Covid” policy.
From the United States to Japan, nations are worried that new variants could emerge from China’s continuing outbreak and that Beijing may not inform the rest of the world quickly enough. There have been no reports of new variants yet, but there is widespread concern over the lack of information and data from China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it was very concerned about rising reports of severe cases across China after the country largely abandoned its “zero-COVID” policy.
While Beijing has moved to reopen its borders and will, from January 8, scrap mandatory quarantine for overseas arrivals, these countries have introduced curbs on arrivals from China:
From January 5, the US will impose mandatory COVID-19 tests for travellers from China. All air passengers aged two years and older will require a negative test no more than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong or Macau. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that Americans should reconsider travel to China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Starting Jan 5, 2023: Travelers flying to U.S. from China, or who have been in China in the past 10 days & are flying from certain airports, must show a negative #COVID19 test taken within 2 days before #travel to the US or documentation of recovery. https://t.co/VSJz2W6kPT pic.twitter.com/J9DujizieA
— CDC (@CDCgov) December 28, 2022
India has already mandated a COVID-19 negative test report for arrivals from China, but also from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand. Those who test positive will be quarantined. India has started randomly testing two percent of all international passengers arriving at airports.
Japan’s new border measures for China will go into effect at midnight on December 30, just as the country heads into New Year’s holidays marked by parties and travel, when infections are expected to rise. Travellers from mainland China will need to have a negative COVID-19 test on arrival. Those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days at designated facilities and their samples will be used for genome analysis.
The government will also limit requests from airlines to increase flights to China.
Japan, a popular destination for Hong Kong residents, will allow travellers from the financial hub to fly into seven Japanese airports, up from four previously, provided they have not been to mainland China within the past seven days.
Italy is the first country in Europe to order COVID-19 antigen swabs and virus sequencing for all travellers coming from China. The main airports in Milan and Rome have already started testing passengers arriving from Beijing and Shanghai.
“The measure is essential to ensure surveillance and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population,” said health minister Orazio Schillaci, when announcing the mandatory testing.
From January 1, Taiwan will start testing arrivals from China for COVID-19. Its Central Epidemic Command Center said all passengers arriving on direct flights from China, as well as by boat at two offshore islands, will have to take PCR tests on arrival.
Countries monitoring situation
Britain has no plans to bring back COVID-19 testing for those coming into the country, a government spokesperson said, in contrast to a growing list of countries mandating tests for travellers from China. “There are no plans to reintroduce COVID-19 testing or additional requirements for arrivals into the UK,” the spokesperson said when asked about a report in the Telegraph newspaper which said the government will consider curbs for arrivals from China.
The country said it was making no change to its rules regarding allowing travellers from China in. “There is no change in the travel advice at this point in time but we are continuing to monitor the situation, as we continue to monitor the impact of COVID here in Australia as well as around the world,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
The Southeast Asian country is being “very cautious” and could impose measures such as testing requirements on visitors from China, but not an outright ban, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said.
The country’s health minister announced new tracking and surveillance measures, and said the aim was to increase the percentage of booster dose uptake to reduce the severity of infections and the risk of death.