The United States said it would 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 the zero containment policy. of beijing covid.
Washington’s move on Wednesday came just hours after Italy announced it would test all air passengers arriving from Porcelain by the virus, becoming the first Western country to set new rules in response to rising infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that beginning January 5, travelers boarding flights to the US from China, Hong Kong and Macau will need a negative certificate. COVID-19 proof or proof of recovery from a previous infection. The requirements also apply to passengers arriving in the US through a third country and connecting to other destinations through the US.
The measures are intended to “slow down the spread” of the virus in the US. the rise in china and are being implemented due to “the lack of adequate and transparent viral genomic sequence and epidemiological data being reported from” Beijing, the CDC said in a statement. Chinese authorities have stopped publishing daily case counts and have narrowed the definition of official Covid cases and deaths.
The Chinese embassy in the US did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Italy will screen all passengers arriving from China. Orazio Schillaci, Italy’s health minister, said on Wednesday that the Rome restrictions were “essential to ensure surveillance and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population.”
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Schillaci urged the EU to impose a bloc-wide testing requirement, which he said Italy had requested in writing from the European Commission.
“Many Chinese passengers come to Italy from Schengen countries,” he said, referring to the bloc’s free movement area. “It is obvious and important to involve European countries in the initiative.”
Italy’s move followed detection of high rates of covid infection among passengers on two post-Christmas flights landing at Milan’s Malpensa airport from China.
On a 92-passenger flight, 38 percent tested positive, while on the second 120-passenger flight, 52 percent tested positive, a health official for the Lombardy region told reporters.
Italy is desperate to avoid a repeat of what happened in March 2020, when it became the first European country to face a serious outbreak of coronavirus that swept across the world, killing millions of people.
Some Asian countries, including Japan, India and Taiwan, have also imposed testing requirements for arriving Chinese, in anticipation of a wave of visitors after President Xi Jinping’s rule. discarded what was left of the covid zero regime that cut him off from the world for almost three years. Japan will limit arrivals from China and Macao to four designated airports, in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, starting Friday.
China is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of Covid, with tens of millions of people infected daily. At the same time, the end of the Covid-0 policy has caused a increased demand for international travel after Beijing said on Monday that it would lift many of the remaining measures as of January 8. Travel booking site Trip.com said outbound bookings from China rose more than 250 percent on Tuesday compared with the previous day.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Wednesday called criticism of the reopening “driven by bias, with the intent to smear China and politically motivated.”
“Covid response measures must be scientifically based and proportionate without affecting normal person-to-person exchange,” he said.
Other countries are also considering restrictions. Jürgen Hardt, foreign affairs spokesman for Germany’s Christian Democrat opposition, on Wednesday demanded a suspension of all flights from China to Germany.
The “explosive numbers of Covid in China threaten the entire world with a new wave of infections,” he told the RND media group. “Only when we are sure that there is no threat of a dangerous new mutation outside of China, should we resume flight connections.”
Sebastian Gülde, a spokesman for the German Health Ministry, said authorities were “very closely monitoring the situation in China.”
“But so far we have no indication that a more dangerous mutation is emerging from this outbreak,” he said. That meant there was no reason to declare China a virus variant area, which would trigger travel restrictions for those arriving from the country.
The UK said it was not considering restrictions for travelers arriving from China.
Additional reporting by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome, Guy Chazan in Berlin and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London
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