US to require negative Covid tests for air passengers arriving from China

US to require negative Covid tests for air passengers arriving from China
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The United States has said it will require negative Covid-19 tests for air passengers 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-Covid containment policy.

Washington’s move on Wednesday came hours after Italy announced it would test all arriving air passengers Demon for the virus, becoming the first western country to impose new rules in response to a spike in infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said travelers boarding flights from China, Hong Kong and Macau to the US from January 5 will need a negative Covid test or proof of recovery from a previous infection. The requirements also apply to passengers arriving in the US via a third country and connecting to other destinations via the US.

The measures are designed to “slow the spread” of the virus in the United States Growth in China and because of the “lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data reported from Beijing,” the CDC said in a statement. Chinese authorities have stopped publishing daily case reports and narrowed the definition of official Covid cases and deaths.

China’s embassy in the United States did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that Rome’s restrictions were “essential to ensure the tracking and detection of possible variants of the virus to protect the Italian population”.

Orazio Schillaci

Orazio Schillaci, Italy’s health minister © Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

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

“Many Chinese passengers come to Italy from Schengen countries,” he said, referring to the bloc’s free travel zone. “It is clear and important to involve European countries in the initiative.”

Italy’s decision to test all passengers from China came after high levels of Covid infections were found among passengers on two post-Christmas flights from China that landed at Milan’s Malpensa airport.

A health official from the Lombardy region told reporters that on one flight of 92 passengers, 38 percent tested positive, and on a second flight of 120 passengers, 52 percent tested positive.

Italy is desperate to avoid a repeat of March 2020, when it became the first European country to face a serious outbreak of the virus that has swept the world and killed millions.

Some Asian countries, including Japan, India and Taiwan, have also imposed testing requirements for visitors to China, anticipating a wave of visitors following President Xi Jinping’s government. broke the rest of the zero Covid regime that closed it off from the world for almost three years. Starting Friday, Japan will restrict arrivals from China, Hong Kong and Macau to four designated airports in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

China is in the grip of an unprecedented virus wave, infecting tens of millions of people every day. At the same time, there is the end of zero-Covid led to an increase in demand for international travel It will cancel many of the remaining measures from January 8 after Beijing announced on Monday. Outbound bookings from China on Tuesday jumped more than 250 percent from a day earlier, travel booking site said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Wednesday called criticism of the reopening “biased, intended to smear China and politically motivated.”

“Covid responses must be science-based and proportionate without affecting exchanges between normal people,” he said.

Other countries are also considering restrictions. Juergen Hardt, foreign affairs spokesman for Germany’s opposition Christian Democrats, demanded on Wednesday that all flights from China to Germany be suspended.

“The exploding Covid numbers in China threaten the whole world with a new wave of infections,” he told the RND media group. “Only after we are sure there is no new, dangerous mutation threat from China should we resume flight connections.”

German Health Ministry spokesman Sebastian Gülde said authorities were “monitoring the situation in China very carefully.” “But so far we have no indication that a more dangerous mutation has emerged from this outbreak.” This meant there was no reason to declare China a virus variant zone, which would have led to travel restrictions for those arriving from the country.

The UK also said it was not considering restrictions on travelers from China.

Additional reporting by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome, Guy Chazan in Berlin and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London

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