The UK has joined a growing list of countries, including India, to introduce curbs on travellers from China amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the country after Chinese authorities relaxed the strict “zero-COVID” rules.
Passengers arriving from China to England from January 5, 2023, will need to show a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test (PDT) taken no more than two days prior to departure.
Although there are no direct flights from China to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, the government said it was working with the devolved regions to ensure this is implemented UK-wide as soon as possible.
“As COVID cases in China rise ahead of them reopening their borders next week, it is right for us to take a balanced and precautionary approach by announcing these temporary measures while we assess the data,” said UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay.
“This allows our world-leading scientists at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to gain rapid insight into potential new variants circulating in China. The best defence against the virus, however, remains the vaccine,” he said on Friday.
Airlines will be required to check all passengers from China have negative pre-departure tests, and passengers will not be allowed to board a flight without providing evidence of a negative test result.
In addition, the UKHSA is launching surveillance from January 8, which will see a sample of passengers arriving in England from mainland China tested for COVID-19 at the point of their arrival.
Passengers at Heathrow Airport will be invited to take part in the study and all positive samples will be sent for sequencing.
This, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said, will further enhance the UK’s ability to identify any new variants which may be circulating in China that could evade the immune response of those already vaccinated or which have the potential to successfully outcompete other variants and spread internationally.
The government said these steps are “precautionary and temporary” measures to further improve the UK’s ability to detect potential new variants of COVID from China, following an increase in cases there and the easing of their border measures next week.
India has joined the United States, Japan, Italy and Taiwan in imposing mandatory COVID tests for travellers from China, amid a COVID-19 surge there after authorities relaxed strict “zero-COVID” rules.
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