Countries re-imposing COVID travel restrictions on travelers from China

Countries across the globe are implementing or considering measures to test or restrict visitors from China as the nation of 1.4 billion people abandons its COVID-free policy and prepares to reopen its borders in beginning in January.

The United States is considering new coronavirus precautions for people traveling from China due to concerns about the risk of new infections, according to US officials who requested anonymity to discuss internal thinking. Japan yesterday quickly announced steps to require testing negative for COVID-19 upon arrival shortly after Beijing said it no longer required domestic travelers to be quarantined from January 8.

China is rapidly lifting strict measures on the pandemic in the face of discontent with the COVID-0 rules, causing outbreaks across the country. Uncertainty about the true scale of infection without reliable official figures is raising concerns that the rapid spread of the virus could lead to the appearance of new variations.

US officials say the government has raised questions about transparent data that China is reporting on the spread of the virus. Earlier this week, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said there were “major differences” in information from abroad, raising growing concern.

China is experiencing the world’s largest COVID-19 outbreak, causing concern among public health officials around the world. Almost 37 million people may have been infected with the virus on a single day last week, according to estimates from the government’s top health agency.

Japan will require a negative test result for COVID-19 on arrival for travelers who have been in mainland China for a period of seven days, while those who test positive will have to be quarantined for a period of time. a week.

Officials said the United States was considering similar steps as a way to prevent further contagion. Malaysia has also imposed new surveillance and monitoring measures. India began randomized testing of about 2% of passengers arriving from other countries at all international airports a week ago to minimize the risk of any new variants entering the country.

China will begin issuing new passports and Hong Kong travel permits to mainland residents, the National Immigration Administration said in a notice on WeChat late Monday. Express checkpoints at the borders with Hong Kong and Macau will reopen, while applications for renewal or extension of visas by foreigners will also restart as part of the easing of restrictions. measure on January 8.

Officials said the new US travel precautions are based on consultations with public health experts and international partners. They said the talks were driven in part by concerns about the lack of genome sequencing data that could help identify the emergence of a new variant.

Health experts say they worry that the virus’ unabated spread could produce a dangerous new variant for the first time since the omicron strain caused a surge in infections more than a year ago .

GISAID, the global consortium that maintains a database for scientists around the world sharing coronavirus sequences to track mutations, said on Tuesday that China has stepped up surveillance amid the outbreak. disease is breaking out. All sequences shared by Chinese health authorities show that the viruses causing the large nationwide outbreak closely resemble the circulating variants found in the rest of the world since July. , they added.

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