Covid-hit China: What is Britain and the rest of the world doing on travel restrictions?
Covid-19 cases have shot through the roof in China – but Beijing premier Xi Jingping is still dead set on removing the zero-Covid policy, including removing restrictions on travel.
Countries across the world are being forced to once again grapple with what restrictions to put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and any potential variants as Chinese citizens arrive on their shores, or their own citizens return from trips to China.
The UK will soon require travellers from China to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test, though there is pressure on politicians to go further and require a negative Covid-19 test.
Last week the Transport Secretary Mark Harper said Covid-positive arrivals from China would not have to isolate but some believe that could change if global standards do.
Different counties on the continent are putting in place different rules – once again making it more difficult for the EU to introduce a standard across the board.
France is requiring travellers to provide a negative Covid-19 test prior to departure, whilst also carrying out random PCR tests at airports on Chinese arrivals.
Meanwhile Italy, which was the first European country to be hit by Covid-19 in February 2020, has ordered antigen swabs and virus sequencing for all travellers from China. Milan’s main airport is also testing passengers on arrival.
Spain is requiring a negative test or a full vaccination against the disease.
Of course, Chinese travellers could arrive in one EU destination and then transit to another without border checks – the French are pushing all EU nations to implement its higher standard.
Belgium, meanwhile, is now testing wastewater from planes arriving from China in an attempt to identify new variants.
The US was quick out of the gate with a demand for mandatory Covid-19 tests on travellers from China beginning this week, the same rule in place in Australia.
China’s near neighbour has also introduced Covid-19 tests for travellers but has also asked airlines to limit the number of flights to China. Japan has largely escaped the worst of Covid-19, choosing instead to continue travel restrictions longer than most.
China itself has rejected criticism of its handling of Covid-19, which has veered from downplaying the severity of the virus to more than two years of stringent curbs, followed by an almost immediate lifting of restrictions on a population with little immunity due to a lagging vaccination programme.
An editorial in the People’s Daily, a regime mouthpiece, yesterday claimed that “China and the Chinese people will surely win the final victory against the pandemic.”