China says countries’ Covid entry restrictions have no scientific basis and are unreasonable

On Tuesday, China responded to governments imposing travel restrictions on the country by arguing that Covid-19 measures should be “science-based” and warned of possible “countermeasures”.

More than a dozen countries, including the UK and the US, have made it mandatory for travelers from China to show a negative Covid test prior to arrival. Morocco has imposed a complete ban on people from China due to the enormous increase in coronavirus cases plaguing the country.

Some federal governments cited Beijing’s lack of transparency on infection data and the risk of new variants as the reason behind the new regulations.

“Some countries have received entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travelers,” said Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.

“This has no scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable,” the spokesperson told AFP.

China is facing the worst wave of Covid infections since the start of the pandemic after easing the brutal restrictions imposed under its “zero Covid” policy.

Earlier, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said: “China has always believed that Covid-19 response measures for all countries should be science-based and proportionate without affecting normal travel and human exchange and cooperation.”

He said “authorized medical professionals” from different countries had told travelers from China that entry restrictions were “unnecessary”.

“China will restart tourism to countries where conditions permit, in light of the Chinese people’s foreign travel trend.”

Last week, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China’s travel restrictions in response to Covid cases were “understandable” in the “lack of extensive information from China”.

“…countries around the world are acting in ways they believe they can protect their populations,” Mr. Ghebreyesus said in a tweet last Thursday.

EU government health officials are expected to meet on Wednesday to provide a coordinated response to the virus spike in China. At a similar virtual meeting on 29 December, more than 100 representatives from EU governments, EU health agencies and WHO urged the bloc to follow its lead and test travelers from China for the infection.

The Australian government on Sunday cited a “lack of extensive information” on Covid cases to impose Beijing’s new travel requirement, which will come into effect from January 5.

The UK and US will mandate negative pre-departure testing for passengers arriving from China from Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised citizens to reconsider traveling to China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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