France, UK, Spain Demand Negative Covid Tests for China Arrivals

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(Bloomberg) -- Airline passengers traveling to France, Spain and the UK from China will have to present a negative Covid test due to concerns over a surge in infections after Beijing scrapped its strict lockdown measures.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to loosen the country’s Covid Zero policy has sparked a jump in infections at home and fanned concern abroad that new variants could emerge. The US, Japan, Taiwan and Italy have already imposed testing. Germany, whose Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited China last month, has no plans to test arrivals for now.

French and UK authorities will also carry out random PCR tests on arrivals from China, government officials said. Genetic sequencing will be done on positive cases in an effort to spot potential new variants of the virus.

According to The Times, as many as one in five people flying into London will get additional testing in what the newspaper said was an example of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sending a message to President Xi.

The government is taking “a balanced and precautionary approach,” Health Secretary Steve Barclay said in a statement.

Read more: What China Risks As It Unwinds Its Covid Zero Policy: QuickTake

There are currently about 10 flights a week to Paris from China, each carrying around 300 passengers. The French government said masks would be mandatory on those flights. It also advised people to delay any non-essential travel to China.

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias earlier on Friday called for a European Union crisis-response meeting at which the bloc should agree to demand evidence of full vaccination from Chinese arrivals.

“A major concern lies in the possibility of new variants appearing in China that have not been controlled,” Darias told reporters. Spain also gave travelers from China the option of a certificate proving full vaccination.

(Adds UK government statement in fifth paragraph.)

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