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Covid in China: US Requires Covid Testing for Chinese Visitors

Following Beijing’s announcement that its borders will reopen the following week, the US has joined a growing list of nations requiring Covid testing of travelers from China.

While Australia and the UK stated that there were no new regulations for travelers from China, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and India announced the requirement for testing.

China will begin allowing more citizens to travel freely on January 8 after being closed to the outside world for three years.

However, the nation’s continued Covid increase has raised suspicion.

This week, China has officially reported roughly 5,000 instances per day, but analysts claim that number is significantly understated and that the actual number of cases per day is closer to a million. According to reports, major city hospitals are overburdened and locals are having difficulty accessing essential medications.

“The infection surge in China is on expected lines,” Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, an Indian epidemiologist and health systems specialist told the BBC in a recent interview. “If you have a susceptible population that is not exposed to the virus, cases will rise. Nothing has changed for the rest of the world, including India.”

Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday that “Currently the development of China’s epidemic situation is overall predictable and under control”.

He said China believed all countries’ Covid responses should be “science-based and proportionate”, and should “not affect normal people-to-people exchange”. He accused some countries and media of “hyping up” the situation and “distorting China’s Covid policy adjustments”.

China’s contentious zero-Covid policy, which President Xi Jinping had personally backed, has come to an end with the country’s decision to reopen its borders. Beijing insisted on widespread, strict lockdowns and mass testing in order to reduce instances to zero, even while the rest of the world opened up and learned to live with the illness.

People became weary and upset as a result of the economy’s decline and occasionally protested against Mr. Xi and his administration in November.

After a few weeks, Beijing started to reverse the stance.
Given the few planes available and the large number of people who still need to renew their passports, it is unknown how many Chinese will travel abroad after January 8.

However, the US has stated that beginning on January 5, all inbound travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau will be required to present a negative Covid test result, obtained 48 hours prior to their departure and either a PCR or fast antigen test.

The restrictions also apply to travelers travelling connecting flights through the US to other locations as well as those going via a third country.

In order to “slow the spread of the virus as we strive to detect and understand any potential new variants that may develop,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was implementing the step.

Additionally, it charged China with failing to submit “sufficient and transparent” Covid data, which it claimed was necessary for “effective” infection surge monitoring and a reduction in the likelihood of new variations arising.

Since officials no longer require instances to be recorded and changed classifications for Covid deaths, it is unknown how many cases and deaths are actually occurring every day in China. Authorities announced on Sunday that they would likewise stop publishing daily case counts.

In response to China’s Covid rise, the European Commission announced that its health security committee will meet on Thursday to explore “potential steps for a coordinated EU approach.”

Though there are few outliers. The mayor of Belgium’s popular tourist destination Bruges urged for obligatory vaccination requirements or Covid tests for Chinese visitors.

Additionally, Italy, an EU member and the virus’ epicenter in late 2019 and early 2020, has already made Covid testing mandatory for all travelers from China.

This was necessary, according to Italy’s health minister, “to ensure the surveillance and detection” of any new viral variations and “protect the Italian public.”

Flights landing in Milan were already screening passengers from China prior to his statement.

On one flight that arrived at the city’s Malpensa Airport on December 26th, 52% of the passengers tested positive for Covid, according to la Repubblica.

 

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