US to require negative Covid tests for air passengers from China

The United States said it will require negative Covid-19 tests for air travelers traveling from China as countries rushed to impose restrictions in response to a surge in cases in the country following the abrupt end of Beijing’s zero-containment policy.

Washington’s move on Wednesday came just hours after Italy announced it would test all air travelers arriving from China for the virus, becoming the first Western country to introduce new rules in response to rising contamination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that starting Jan. 5, travelers flying to the United States from China, Hong Kong and Macau will need to test negative for Covid or prove recovery from a previous infection. These requirements also apply to travelers entering the United States through a third country and to travelers connecting to other destinations through the United States.

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The CDC said in a statement that the measures are aimed at reducing the spread of the virus in the United States after an increase in China, and are being implemented because of the “lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genome sequence data reported from Beijing.” Statement. Chinese authorities have stopped publishing daily numbers of cases and limited the definition of official Covid cases and deaths.

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The Chinese embassy in the United States did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Italy will test all travelers arriving from China. Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that Rome’s restrictions were “necessary to ensure the monitoring and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”.

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Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Schillaci urged the EU to impose a bloc-wide testing requirement, which he said Italy had written to the European Commission to request.

Referring to the free travel zone of this union, he said: Many Chinese travelers come to Italy from Schengen countries. The participation of European countries in this initiative is obvious and important.

Orazio Schillaci

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci wants the EU to impose testing requirements across the bloc for travelers arriving from China © Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg.

The move by Italy followed the identification of high rates of covid infection among passengers on two post-Christmas flights that landed at Milan’s Malpensa airport from China.

A Lombardy region health official told reporters: “On one flight with 92 passengers, 38 percent tested positive, while on a second flight with 120 passengers, the test was 52 percent positive.”

Italy is desperate to avoid a repeat of March 2020, when it was the first European country to experience a serious outbreak of the coronavirus, which spread across the world and killed millions.

Some Asian countries, including Japan, India and Taiwan, have also imposed test requirements for Chinese entry in anticipation of a wave of visitors after President Xi Jinping’s administration scrapped a zero-covid regime that had closed it off from the world. Have. For almost three years, starting Friday, Japan will limit arrivals from China and Macau to four designated airports in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

China is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of covid and tens of millions of people are infected with it every day. At the same time, the end of the zero-covid policy boosted demand for international travel, as Beijing announced on Monday that it would lift many of the remaining measures from January 8. Travel booking site Trip.com said outbound bookings from China were up. More than 250 percent on Tuesday compared to the previous day.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Wednesday called criticism of the country’s reopening “based on bias, aimed at smearing China and politically motivated.”

“Covid response measures must be science-based and proportionate, without affecting normal people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

Other countries have also imposed restrictions. Juergen Hart, foreign affairs spokesman for the German opposition Christian Democratic Party, called for the suspension of all flights from China to Germany on Wednesday.

“The explosive number of Covid in China threatens the whole world with a new wave of infections,” he told the RND media group. We should resume flights only when we are sure there is no threat of a new and dangerous mutation outside of China.

German health ministry spokesman Sebastian Gulde said authorities were “monitoring the situation in China very closely”.

“But so far we have no indication of a more dangerous mutation emerging from this outbreak,” he said. This means there is no reason to declare China as a virus-type area, which would impose travel restrictions on those arriving from the country.

Britain announced it would not impose restrictions on travelers arriving from China.

Additional reporting by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome, Guy Chazan in Berlin and Yasmin Cameron-Chilesh in London

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