Countries introduce mandatory corona testing for China travellers

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Given China’s current Corona infection wave, more countries are tightening their controls on people entering the country from the People’s Republic. Spain and South Korea also announced testing obligations on Friday. The German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) considers that currently “not yet necessary” but announced a close-meshed “variant monitoring” at European airports. In Austria, no compulsory testing is currently planned, according to the Ministry of Health.

After nearly three years of strict precautions, China’s leadership abruptly ended its zero corona policy on December 7. According to officially unconfirmed internal estimates, 248 million people, or 18 percent of the population, became infected in the first three weeks of December alone. Scientists warn the Corona wave could spawn new variants that would then find their way to other countries.

The EU deliberated on the matter on Thursday. Afterwards, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides first called on states to review their national surveillance measures for the virus and, if necessary, to ramp them up again. A crisis meeting is expected to be held next week.

Lauterbach also believes a coordinated Europe-wide solution is essential. “We need an exact “variant monitoring” because we cannot reliably retrieve this variant monitoring from China,” the German minister said. “Targeted verification of individual flight sequences, for example, could also play a role here, and that is being prepared.” But he said there is no reason for “antigen testing on a routine basis.”

Italy, the US and India had already introduced or announced restrictions on travellers to China. Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias announced Friday that travellers from the People’s Republic must present a corona test upon entry or provide proof of complete vaccination. It was initially unclear when. In South Korea, starting Monday, all people arriving from the neighbouring country must undergo a PCR test within one day. In addition, from next Thursday, all those wishing to enter the country from China must be able to show a negative Corona test.

Japan required all travellers from China to be tested for Corona upon entry starting Friday. If the test is positive, those affected must spend seven days in isolation in unique accommodations. Direct flights from China will be restricted to four Japanese airports, including Narita and Haneda, not far from Tokyo.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed understanding for the countries’ action because of the lack of “comprehensive information from China.”

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