Covid surge fear looms as China reopens borders

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The move has been welcomed by many eager to reunite with families…reports Asian Lite News

China has reopened its borders to international visitors for the first time since it imposed travel restrictions in March 2020.

Incoming travellers will no longer need to quarantine – marking a significant change in the country’s Covid policy as it battles a surge in cases, the BBC reported.

They will still require proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of travelling.

The move has been welcomed by many eager to reunite with families, the BBC reported.

In Hong Kong, 400,000 people are expected to travel into mainland China in the coming weeks with long queues for flights into cities including Beijing and Xiamen.

On Sunday, double decker coaches packed with travellers arrived at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to catch buses to the Guangdong province – among them were college students returning home, BBC reported.

The country’s reopening comes at the start of “chun yun”, the first period of Lunar New Year travel. Before the pandemic, it was the largest annual worldwide migration of people returning home to spend time with their family, BBC reported.

Two billion trips are expected to be made this Lunar New Year, double the number that travelled last year.

Li Hua, who travelled from the UK to China – where her family lives – for the festival said it had been “too long” since she had returned, “I’m so happy to be back, and breathe Chinese air. So happy, so happy”.

But there is concern from some that opening the borders will result in more transmission of Covid-19, BBC reported.

Global Covid surge fears loom

As China opened borders and resumed travel on Sunday, billions of local travellers are set to make overseas trips in the next few days, triggering Covid surge concerns in various countries as they put restrictions in place for flights coming from China.

Global Times reported that the downgrading management of Covid-19 officially took effect on Sunday and the inbound quarantine for international arrivals was cancelled.

“The order numbers for international flights recorded a year-on-year growth of 628 per cent, reaching the highest since March 2020, data from online travel agency LY.com showed,” said the report.

Among the surging orders, the numbers of inbound and outbound flights account for 48 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region became the top destination for inbound tickets on Sunday, with flight orders from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland rose 62 per cent from the previous day.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced that international flights can directly land in Beijing without being redirected to other entry points.

Some 18 international flights, majorly from Hong Kong, were expected to arrive in Beijing on Sunday.

Shenzhen and Hong Kong will review the first phase of border reopening in a week. On the basis of consensus reached by both sides, arrangement of the second phase will be announced.

According to China’s Ministry of Transport, more than two billion passengers are expected to take trips over the next 40 days.

China on Saturday marked the first day of “chun yun”, the 40-day period of Lunar New Year travel.

European Union officials are “strongly” recommending that all member states insist on negative Covid tests from Chinese arrivals before they travel, reports BBC.

France, Spain and Italy have already introduced testing but others such as Germany had been monitoring the situation.

England, outside the EU, requires pre-flight testing on China arrivals.

The US has imposed mandatory Covid-19 tests on travellers from China beginning January 5.

India has mandated a Covid-19 negative test report for travellers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

Air travellers to Canada from China must test negative for Covid-19 no more than two days before departure.

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