France and Britain on Friday became the latest in a growing list of countries requiring COVID-19 tests from travelers arriving from China following a surge of infections in the Asian nation.
Britain said Friday that Chinese travelers would need to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within two days of departure. The measures will take effect January 5.
France announced a similar policy Friday, saying its new rules are set to go into place on Sunday. It also said that passengers on flights from China to France will be required to wear masks and that health authorities at French airports will carry out random PCR tests on passengers arriving from China. Health officials say they will look for any potential new coronavirus variants that could emerge from China.
Travel rules will be relaxed
The moves come after China announced it would lift its travel restrictions beginning January 8.
Infections of COVID-19 have been rising in China since the government ended its strict zero-COVID policies, including relaxing some of its testing for the virus.
A host of other nations have also imposed restrictions on travelers from China, including the United States, Spain, Italy, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Emily Hu, assistant director of a local pharmacy in Taichung, central Taiwan, told VOA that people in Taiwan are worried the outbreaks of COVID-19 in China will cause another wave of the epidemic in Taiwan.
“I don’t know if the virus [in China] is a primitive strain that has not evolved or is a more virulent virus. We can’t see the information, because their [China’s] information is completely opaque,” she said.
Earlier this week, the U.S. said China had provided only limited data to global databases about the variants that are circulating in the country.
The World Health Organization on Friday again urged China to share specific and up-to-date information about COVID-19 in the country, including more genetic sequencing data.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said Friday that China has been sharing relevant data about the virus with the international community.
Chen Hsiu-Hsi, a professor at the Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at National Taiwan University in Taipei, told VOA that one of the most important steps to be taken is “gene sequence monitoring to see if there are new variants in China besides BA.5 and BF.7 that are currently popular in China, as well as BQ.1, XBB, and the so-called BA.2.75 that are currently popular in the world.”
China has said that it believes mutations to the coronavirus will make it more infectious but less severe.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.