Beijing has issued a stern warning to countries which are tightening rules on its passengers flying from China. It has also criticised recently imposed testing requirements on passengers from China and threatened countermeasures against the countries involved.
“We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a briefing on Tuesday (3 Jan 2023).
“We are firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the Covid measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.”
The comments were China’s sharpest to date on the issue as Australia and Canada this week joined a growing list of countries requiring travellers from China to take a Covid test before boarding their flight.
China is presently experiencing a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus after abruptly easing restrictions that were in place for the past three years. The restrictions were hastily removed last month after protests against its draconian lockdowns broke out in several major Chinese cities.
In Shanghai, a senior doctor at one of the city’s top hospitals estimated that 70 per cent of Shanghai’s population may have been infected with COVID-19. Hospitals and crematoriums were reported to be overwhelmed with the sick and the dead.
Other countries, including the US, UK, India, Japan and several European nations, have announced tougher measures on travellers from China amid concerns over the possibility that new variants may emerge.
The French prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, defended the tests. Starting from Wednesday (4 Jan 2023), anyone flying from China to France will have to present a negative virus test taken within the previous 48 hours and be subject to random testing on arrival. “We are in our role, my government is in its role, protecting the French,” she told France-Info radio.
Chinese authorities previously said that from 8 January, travellers would no longer need to quarantine upon arriving in China, paving the way for Chinese residents to travel out without quarantine worries upon returning.
Last Wednesday (28 Dec 2022), it was reported that Italian authorities had found almost half of the passengers on two flights from China to Milan were infected with COVID-19. As a result, Italy announced that all travellers from China will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival.
On the first flight, 35 out of 92 passengers tested positive for the virus, while on the second, 62 passengers out of 120 were infected, according to Italian health officials.
Meanwhile, despite many netizens expressing concerns over the influx of possible sick travellers from China, the Health Ministry (MOH) run by Ong Ye Kung continues to maintain its prevailing COVID-19 rules.
That is, travellers from China do not need to produce any COVID negative test result to enter Singapore. Also, Singapore does not test any of them for COVID-19 on arrival.
ICA only said on its website, “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.”
Now with China threatening retaliation against countries which impose COVID tests on its passengers, it would surely further discourage Health Minister Ong Ye Kung or any other 4G leaders from imposing tests on travellers from China even if they want to.