- The US has joined a growing list of countries imposing additional COVID-19 measures on travelers from China.
- Nothing has changed in the travel advice between China and Australia.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia would “continue to monitor the situation”.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said travel advice for travelers coming to Australia from China would not change for the time being, although the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks is being monitored.
The United States, India, Italy, Japan and Taiwan have updated travel requirements for arrivals from China to include additional COVID-19 testing requirements as residents prepare for overseas travel for the first time since the pandemic began.
Mr Albanese said he had taken note of the changes made by other countries.
“We will continue to monitor the situation there, as we do around the world, and respond according to health advice,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Seven’s Sunrise on Thursday.
“As of this writing, nothing has changed in travel advice between China and Australia.”
As of Thursday, the federal government advised travelers to China to exercise a high level of caution “due to ongoing local COVID-19 restrictions.”
Mr Albanese said it was important for Australians to get their COVID-19 vaccinations up to date.
“I’m once again giving people a reminder… if you’re entitled to a booster, please go get it,” he told Nine’s Today Show.
“Don’t relax. COVID is still here.”
What are the rules for travelers in China before departure?
Currently, travelers to China must have a negative test before departure and may be quarantined upon arrival or monitored at home.
But on Jan. 8, China will stop requiring travelers to quarantine, a key step in easing restrictions at its borders, which have largely been closed since 2020.
Chinese hospitals and funeral homes are under intense pressure due to a rising virus wave.
There are doubts about the accuracy of China’s official data, prompting some countries to enact new travel rules for Chinese visitors overnight. China has also been accused of not allowing access to genome sequencing of virus strains circulating in the country.
China began dismantling the world’s toughest regime of lockdowns and extensive testing earlier this month, and is on course for a full reopening next year.
What measures is the US introducing?
But now, starting January 5 in the US, all passengers aged two and over must have a negative test result no later than two days before departing from China, Hong Kong or Macau, health officials said on Wednesday.
There are fears that the rapid spread of the virus in China could lead to the emergence of a new and more contagious variant.
China has approved nine domestically developed vaccines for use, but none have been updated to target the highly infectious Omicron variant. At the same time, it has not yet approved any foreign mRNA vaccines.
Italy imposed its new testing requirements after more than half of passengers on two flights arriving from China at Milan’s main airport, Malpensa, tested positive.
Andrew Phelan, former DFAT expert on Australia and China, said it was a good idea for countries to be cautious.
He told Sky News if the Chinese New Year is celebrated in January, it would mark the world’s largest internal migration as people return to their hometowns and the spread of the virus should be investigated.
“I think the wise approach is to go slow and careful… There is a possibility of new tribes, we don’t know that and we need to monitor that,” he said.