Caixin
Oct 31, 2020 06:37 AM
SOCIETY & CULTURE

China Tightens Coronavirus Screening of Inbound Travelers

The rule change would make trips to China more difficult for some travelers
The rule change would make trips to China more difficult for some travelers

China tightened requirements for travelers from a number of countries by demanding proof of negative antibody tests in addition to nucleic acid tests as a Covid-19 resurgence worsens in many parts of the world.

Chinese embassies in the U.S., the U.K., France, Italy, Poland and several other European and American countries published statements that China is requiring inbound travelers to present negative coronavirus antibody tests as well as nucleic acid tests before boarding flights to the country.

While China has largely brought the domestic pandemic under control, sporadic flare-ups including recent ones in Xinjiang and Qingdao fueled fears over a resurgence as winter looms. Meanwhile, intensifying outbreaks in Europe and North America also increased pressure on China’s disease control efforts.

China reported 53 asymptomatic cases Thursday, including 39 among incoming travelers, according to the National Health Commission.

The rule change would make trips to China more difficult for some travelers. A Chinese state company employee in the U.K. said the new rule makes it almost impossible to take connecting flights back to China, and the number of direct flights remains limited.

The new requirement will take effect Nov. 6 for travelers from the U.S. and Nov. 7 for those from the U.K. Schedules for other countries were set between Nov. 6 and 10, according to the embassies.

The antibody test results for international travelers should be issued by designated institutions within 48 hours before boarding. Travelers taking connecting flights in third countries need second antibody and nucleic acid tests in the transit countries, according to the statements.

The newly added blood test for antibodies known as IgM can detect early infection of the novel coronavirus, offering supplemental screening for a virus that sometimes returns false negative results in nucleic acid tests.

China’s embassies in the U.S. and the U.K. warned travelers to avoid transferring through those two countries as there are no testing institutions near major airports that can guarantee timely test results.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

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