Covid-19: Israel, Spain, Japan, Great Britain … These countries that will impose tests on travelers coming from China

As China faces an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 contamination, several countries, such as Israel or Spain, have decided to impose PCR tests on travelers coming from China.

Half a million people are infected every day, just for one city. An unprecedented wave of Covid-19 contamination has hit China since the release of the “zero Covid” strategy in early December. Concerned, several countries have taken the decision to impose PCR tests on Chinese travelers.

China announced on Monday the end of mandatory quarantines on arrival in its territory from January 8, a first since the drastic measures introduced in 2020. The Chinese authorities have even stopped, since last Sunday, the publication of daily data about the health situation. The official figures were increasingly criticized.

Beijing nevertheless confirmed on Friday, December 30 that the country has continued to transmit data that is always “transparent” regarding its statistics on the development of Covid-19. By last Friday, according to figures from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5,515 new cases had been identified, including one death.

This discrepancy between official data and international fears is explained by the fact that in China only patients who died of respiratory failure caused by the virus and tested positive are considered victims of Covid-19. However, several states around the world have decided to test travelers coming from China for fear of spreading on their soil.

Israel

Thus, the Israeli Ministry of Health announced on Friday, December 30, the introduction of Covid screening tests for foreign travelers from China.

It was Health Minister Arié Dery, who took office on Thursday evening, who decided to gather senior public health officials in the morning to take stock of the consequences for Israel of the spectacular increase in the number of cases of the coronavirus in China.

During the meeting, “it was decided to order foreign airlines to accept foreign nationals on a flight from China to Israel only if they have tested (negative) for Covid,” the minister said in a press release. The latter also asked public health to set up a “voluntary” screening center for people returning from China and recommended “avoiding” travel to that country.

Spain

A few hours earlier, it was Spain that announced the establishment of “controls” at its airports for travelers coming from China. During a brief press conference in Madrid, Health Minister Carolina Darias indicated that these travelers would be asked for “proof that they are negative (…) or a complete chart of vaccination”.

If the date of entry into force of this measure was not mentioned, this statement also comes the day after an informal meeting in Brussels convened by the European Commission to find “a coordinated approach” from member states, but which did not lead to any decision one way or the other .

Italy

Italy announced Wednesday, Dec. 28, to introduce mandatory PCR tests on all travelers arriving from China, according to the Italian health minister.

“This measure is essential to guarantee the monitoring and individualization of possible variants of the virus to protect the Italian population”, reasoned the minister Orazio Schillaci in a press release.

Until now, only the Lombardy region had made such arrangements until January 30, 2023. This is explained by the fact that health is an area of ​​competence for each region, but Italy has decided to extend it to the whole country.

Japan

Japan announced on Tuesday, December 27, that it will impose Covid-19 tests on visitors from mainland China in response to the upcoming end of mandatory quarantines on arrival in China.

If this measure takes effect from December 30, Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister justified this decision with “reports that infections are spreading rapidly”.

“It is difficult to determine precisely the situation (in China, ed. note) due to significant differences between the central and local authorities, as well as between the government and the private sector,” he added, while Chinese visitors accounted for 30 percent of total foreign visitors to Japan in 2019. The number of flights to Japan from mainland China will also be limited, Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday.

India

Responsible for more than 4.7 million deaths according to the WHO since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, India reacted quickly and from December 24 adopted measures aimed at imposing the use of the PCR test for Asian travelers.

Also affected are Thailand, South Korea and Singapore, where Covid-19 cases remain stable. In addition, a form is requested before taking the flight certifying that passengers are not contaminated.

United Kingdom

Britain to impose negative Covid tests on travelers from China, according to British media.

What about France?

Travelers boarding in China en route to France must present a negative Covid-19 screening test at the start of their flight, the French government announced on Friday 30 December. All travelers from China to France, on a direct flight or with a stopover, must bring proof of a negative test (PCR or antigen) of less than 48 hours upon departure, a government source said during a press conference.

Travelers “will have committed” upon departure to “self-isolate” if they test positive on arrival, the government source said. In addition, it will be mandatory to wear a mask on board flights departing from China to France.

On arrival in France, PCR tests will be carried out from 1 January 2023. All positive samples will be subject to systematic sequencing for epidemiological surveillance purposes. A decree from the Prime Minister will be published to this effect and communicated to the European Commission and to the EU Member States.

France recommended at the beginning of the week that travelers planning to go to China, especially frail and immunocompromised people, should consider postponing their trip in the absence of a significant reason.

United States

This news echoes the United States, also concerned about the epidemic. Nevertheless, the country is currently planning to impose entry restrictions on its territory for travelers from China without formally adopting it.

The US is “following scientific evidence and advice from public health experts, consulting with partners and considering taking similar actions … to protect the American people,” they added, citing concerns expressed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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