Britain ‘is set today to consider new Covid restrictions on Chinese tourists’ after huge virus surge in Beijing prompted mandatory tests in US, Italy and India
- Plans to test travellers from China for Covid will be considered today by officials
- News comes just hours after a government spokesman said ‘no plans’ for testing
- US latest country to impose restrictions after end of Beijing’s zero-Covid policy
- UK Health Security Agency says they will continue to monitor harmful variants
Plans to test Chinese travellers will be considered today after a wave of countries announced the policy as Covid numbers rapidly increase.
Officials from the Department for Transport, the Home Office and the Department for Health will assess whether six non-stop flights from China in the next seven days should be subject to testing.
The flights have a capacity of 1,795 seats and travel experts have said that testing is ‘inevitable’.
The US joined Italy, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan in announcing new measures after the abrupt end of Beijing’s zero-Covid policy sparked a surge in cases.
Pictured: Patients receiving treatment at Tianjin Nankai Hospital on December 28, after the Chinese government announced it would finally ease restrictions
Patients were seen on gurneys in the waiting room of Tianjin First Center Hospital as medics deal with a new surge in cases
However, a UK Government spokesperson had said just hours before that there were no plans to introduce testing measures.
The spokesperson added the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will continue to closely monitor the prevalence and spread of harmful variants and keep available international data under review.
Beijing has now finally abandoned its doomed Covid-zero strategy, long after the rest of the world started living with the virus.
This has led to a large exit wave of new infections among the nation’s population of 1.4 billion – and the United States is now also considering its next course of action.
China will scrap quarantine for inbound travellers from January 8, drawing an end to some of the world’s harshest border restrictions.
The move was greeted with jubilation by Chinese citizens, who rushed to book international flights, triggering a surge in ticket prices.
But Bloomberg reports up to 50 per cent of passengers on two flights into Milan from China tested positive for Covid, prompting the Italian government to bring mandatory testing back.
Of 62 passengers on the first flight subjected to testing, 35 came back positive, while 62 out of 120 tested positive from the second fight.
A Covid-19 patient being treated at Tianjin First Center Hospital yesterday
Pictured: People in Shanghai attending a Christmas market amid a surge in Covid cases
In the US, starting on January 5, all travellers from China will be required to take a Covid-19 test no more than two days before travel and provide a negative test before getting on their flight.
The testing applies to anyone two years and older.
In a statement explaining the restrictions, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited the surge in infections and what it said was a lack of adequate and transparent information from China, including genomic sequencing on the viral strains circulating in the country.
The CDC said: ‘These data are critical to monitor the case surge effectively and decrease the chance for entry of a novel variant of concern.’
Italy is so far the only country in Europe and EU member state to have set the new Covid rules. It has imposed testing on all China arrivals.
According to the BBC, the European Commission said its health security committee will convene on Thursday to discuss ‘possible measures for a co-ordinated EU approach’ to China’s Covid situation.
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