As of Jan. 5, the Government of Canada will require air travellers from China, Hong Kong, and Macao to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure.
“In response to the surge of COVID-19 in the People’s Republic of China and given the limited epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data available on these cases, the Government of Canada intends to put in place certain temporary health measures for air travellers entering Canada from China,” the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement on Dec. 31.
Over the last three years China has had some of the strictest lockdown measures including rigorous mass testing and quarantine measures. But, instead of phasing out these measures, as is the case in democratic countries, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) scrapped its draconian zero-COVID policy in December in a surprise move, leading to new COVID-19 cases skyrocketing across China. The CCP revealed plans to reopen its borders on Jan. 8 but continues its notorious cover-up of the real situation with mass deaths and infections.
Some scientists worry China’s outbreak could unleash a new variant of coronavirus on the world that may or may not be similar to the ones now circulating, since each infection is another chance for the virus to mutate. Late last month, the World Health Organization called on China to provide more detailed information about its evolving COVID situation.
A number of other countries, including the United States, India, Japan and some European countries, have preceded Canada in requiring negative COVID-19 testing for travellers from China in response to the influx of new COVID-19 cases into the country.
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According to the PHAC, the new testing requirement applies to all travellers who are two years of age and older, departing from China, Hong Kong, and Macao, regardless of nationality and vaccination status.
Prior to boarding a plane to Canada, passengers are required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than two days before the flight. The test could be either a negative molecular (such as a PCR test) or a negative antigen test that has documentation to show that it has been monitored by a telehealth service or an accredited laboratory or testing provider.
Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before departing, but no more than 90 days, can instead provide the airline with documentation of their prior positive, in place of a negative test result.
The PHAC said the entry restrictions on passengers from China will be in place for 30 days and subject to adjustment based on reassessment “as more data and evidence becomes available.”
“Our actions continue to be guided by prudence and we will not hesitate to adjust measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.
“We will adapt our measures based on available data, the science, and the epidemiological situation in our country and globally to protect Canadians,” Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said.
As part of its announcement about the new travel rules for China, the PHAC also said it will begin a pilot project to test wastewater from planes arriving at Vancouver International Airport and extend an existing wastewater testing project at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, to assess how prevalent the disease is in different parts of the world and identify and monitor the development of any new variants of concern.
For Canadians in China, they can seek help from Canada’s embassy and consulates if needed, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly.
“The Embassy of Canada in Beijing and consulates in China, as well as the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, stand ready to provide consular assistance to Canadians, as needed,” she said in a statement.
As more and more countries around the world adopt COVID-19 curbs on Chinese travellers, Beijing is threatening to retaliate.
“We are firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the COVID measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Jan. 3, though no further details were given regarding the countermeasures.
In response, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said “there’s no cause for retaliation” by Beijing just because countries around the world are “taking prudent health measures to protect their citizens.”
“That’s what you’re seeing from us and others,” Jean-Pierre said, referring to Washington. “This decision is based on public health and science. This is coming from our experts here.”