Hong Kong (CNN) — A surging Covid outbreak in China. Countries imposing travel restrictions on Chinese travelers, wary of the virus being imported. Scientists warning against fearmongering and xenophobia.
But this isn’t early 2020. The familiar scene is playing out now as China battles its biggest-ever outbreak, after abandoning its stringent zero-Covid approach and partially reopening its border three years into the pandemic.
The country announced this week it will drop quarantine requirements for international arrivals and resume outbound travel for Chinese citizens, which had previously been banned. It prompted a surge of eager travelers booking flights out of the country, hungry for a trip after several years of isolation — but it also sparked concern among some overseas governments as China’s Covid cases skyrocket.
Almost half of the 212 passengers who arrived in Italy’s Milan airport from China on Monday tested positive for Covid, said a regional health chief on Wednesday.
But while countries including the US and Japan move to impose restrictions, others such France and Great Britain have made it clear they are ready to welcome Chinese travelers — who, pre-pandemic, had been a major driver of international tourism.
China responded by claiming its Covid situation was “under control,” and accused Western media of “distorting” its recent policy changes.
“The real intention is to sabotage China’s three years of Covid-19 control efforts and attack the country’s system,” state-run tabloid Global Times said in an article Thursday, citing experts in calling the restrictions “unfounded” and “discriminatory.”
Which countries are imposing testing requirements?
Japan announced on Tuesday that all travelers who have either been to mainland China or have traveled there within seven days will be tested on arrival starting Friday, and that the government would limit the number of flights to and from China.
The country’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, pointed to the lack of official Chinese government data. “While there is information that the infection is spreading rapidly in mainland China, concern has been growing in Japan as it is difficult to grasp the detailed situation,” he said.
Indian authorities implemented similar guidelines on travelers not only from China, but also several nearby locations including Japan, South Korea and Thailand. The guidelines are aimed at ensuring that Covid doesn’t spread quickly as it has in China, authorities said Tuesday.
Taiwan also announced mandatory tests on arrival for travelers coming from mainland China on Wednesday. The self-ruling island has banned mainland Chinese tourists since the pandemic, and only allows Chinese citizens to visit for business or family reasons.
In all three places, those found positive on arrival will be required to quarantine for several days.
The United States announced it will require a pre-departure negative test result for travelers from China, including Hong Kong and Macao — as well as popular third-country gateways such as Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver.
In Europe, both Spain and Italy tightened their restrictions. Spain now requires a negative test for Covid-19 or proof of full vaccination for visitors arriving from China, while Italy has brought …….