US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China


The US has become the latest country to impose Covid testing on visitors from China, after Beijing announced it would reopen borders next week.

Italy, Japan, Taiwan and India also announced mandatory tests, but Australia and UK said there were no new rules for travelers from China.

After three years of being closed to the world, China will let people travel more freely from 8 January.

But the country’s ongoing Covid surge has sparked wariness.

China is reporting about 5,000 cases a day, but analysts say such numbers are vastly undercounted – and the daily caseload may be closer to a million. Hospitals are overwhelmed and residents are struggling to find basic medicines, according to reports.

On Wednesday, the US said a lack of “adequate and transparent” Covid data in China had contributed to the decision to require Covid tests from 5 January for travelers entering the country from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this was needed “to help slow the spread of the virus as we work to identify… any potential new variants that may emerge”.

But Beijing’s foreign ministry on Wednesday had said coronavirus rules should only be instated on a “scientific” basis and accused Western countries and media of “hyping up” the situation.

Some people reacted angrily to China’s censored social media.

“I thought all of the foreign countries had opened up. Isn’t this racism?” read one comment that was liked 3,000 times on Weibo. The US has said testing is required of anyone coming from China, or via a third country, regardless of nationality.

But others said they understood the reason for the conditions: “This is nothing compared to all the restrictions we had for people coming into China,” one user wrote.

Beijing only announced on Monday its decision to end quarantine for arrivals – effectively reopening travel in and out of the country for the first time since March 2020. Until this week, anyone entering China had to undergo quarantine in state facilities.

Before the pandemic, China had been the world’s largest outbound tourism market. But it’s unclear how many Chinese people will travel abroad after 8 January given that the number of flights is limited, and many citizens need to renew their passports.

The international community’s reaction has varied with the UK and Australia saying they were monitoring China’s Covid situation but were not planning on announcing new testing requirements.


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