TOKYO, JAPAN — Japan announced on Tuesday (27 Dec 2022) that travellers from China will now be required to present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival in Japan due to the rapid spread of the virus in the country.
Travellers from China who test positive will be required to quarantine for seven days. The new border measures will go into effect from midnight in Japan on 30 December.
The Japanese government will also limit requests from airlines to increase flights to China. Japan reopened its borders to tourists in October after more than two years of strict COVID curbs.
The announcement came after China stopped publishing its daily COVID figures of cases and deaths, as COVID cases surged across multiple Chinese cities.
“They can’t fool people any more”
Cities across China are struggling with surging virus cases, resulting in pharmacy shelves stripped bare and hospitals overflowing with patients.
The crematoriums are also reported to be flooded with bodies as Beijing suddenly dismantled its zero-COVID regime earlier this month. Beijing has admitted that the scale of the outbreak has become “impossible” to track following the end of mandatory mass testing.
On Chinese social media, some users responded to the Chinese government’s decision to stop publishing COVID figures with cynicism, pointing to the increasing discrepancy between official statistics and infections within their families and social circles.
“Finally, they are waking up and realising they can’t fool people any more,” wrote one user on Weibo. Another said, “This was the best and biggest fake statistics.”
China’s censors and mouthpieces have been working overtime to spin the decision to scrap strict travel curbs, quarantines and snap lockdowns as a victory, even as cases soar.
Some health experts estimate that 60 per cent of the nation of 1.4 billion people could be infected over the coming months and that more than two million could die.
The virus is also hammering China’s economy, which is expected to grow at less than 3 per cent this year, its worst performance in nearly half a century.
Mainland Chinese flocking to travel sites
Meanwhile, it was also reported that mainland Chinese are flocking to travel sites, even as rising infections strained the health system.
Data from the travel platform Ctrip showed that searches for popular destinations had increased 10-fold.
Data from another platform, Qunar, showed that within 15 minutes of the news of China scrapping its zero-COVID policy, searches for international flights jumped seven-fold.
But in Singapore, ICA continues to remain open to travellers from China.
On its website, it says:
“Travellers aged 12 and below by year of birth are exempted from COVID-19 border measures.”
“All other travellers aged 13 and above may enter Singapore as per normal without testing or quarantine, only if they have taken minimum WHO-EUL vaccine dosage.”