New Push for COVID Tests for China Flights as Cases Soar Slammed by Airlines

The global lobbying group for international air travel is siding with Beijing over the strict new COVID restrictions on flights originating from China.

The International Air Transport Association says a “rapid rollback” of measures such as pre-boarding COVID testing and on-landing testing has proven ineffective in the past, despite the worrying lack of transparency from Beijing. “Governments must make decisions based on scientific facts, not political science,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh, adding that the restrictions only delay the peak of the crisis. new wave while “strangling international connections, damaging economies and destroying jobs”.

The comments mirror similar statements made in March 2020, when the airline industry lobbied against shutting down countries where COVID-19 cases spiked.

The criticism came after Beijing threatened unspecified “countermeasures” against a growing list of countries that did it. travel restrictions on flights from China. It’s not clear what those measures might be, as China itself requested a negative COVID test for all tourists coming and will just scrap Mandatory five-day quarantine at government facilities for all arrivals on January 8.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said the measures were “politically motivated” to harm the Chinese economy. “We believe that the entry restrictions imposed by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis and some outrageous behavior is even unacceptable,” Mao said. “We firmly oppose attempts to manipulate COVID measures for political purposes and will implement countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.”

Beijing’s comments came after Australia and Canada joined the US, UK, India and Japan in requiring all passengers on flights leaving China to present a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours. after boarding the plane. Several other countries, including Italy, require all passengers to be screened upon arrival. Two flights that landed in Milan before Christmas from China showed infection rates of more than 50% of passengers.

A Chinese passenger who tested positive upon arrival in South Korea on Tuesday night escaped from a government quarantine hotel and is being sought by police. The 41-year-old Chinese national was discovered at a discount store in a busy district on Yeongjong Island, according to the newspaper. South China Post Office Morning.

The European Union, which initially mocked the restrictions, banded together to announce on Tuesday that the majority of the bloc’s countries wanted pre-flight testing. The bloc also provided a vaccine to China to help prevent an outbreak, but Beijing refused, saying it had “sufficient supply”.

The international community has been unanimous in not trusting data from China on infection levels after the country lifted COVID restrictions last month. China reports very few deaths and about 5,000 new infections a day despite reports that crematoriums and hospitals are overcrowded.

Concerns that a new variant may be lurking in the positive cases in China have prompted several countries to conduct genetic sequencing of the positive samples. Italy did not find a new variant in its sequence. Belgium has begun testing wastewater on flights from China to fill a data gap reported by China that is incomplete, the country’s health ministry said in a statement.

Millions of visitors are expected to move to celebrate the Lunar New Year on January 22.


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