Taiwan, US latest to reimpose partial Covid19 PCR testing for arrivals

TAIPEI, 29 Dec 2022:

Taiwan became the latest country to introduce PCR tests for arrivals from China as Covid19 cases continue to spread across the Asian nation – after Beijing relaxed strict prevention measures that had been in place since early 2020.

As of Jan 1, people travelling from China by boat or plane will have to undergo a PCR test upon arrival in Taiwan and travellers who test positive will have to self-isolate for five days, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center said in a statement.

The measure will come into effect before the Lunar New Year holidays, the largest annual migration in the world – which in 2023 takes place Jan 21- 27 – and which sees many Taiwanese nationals return to the island from mainland China and millions of people travel to visit loved ones or take short vacations.

Other countries in the region have also announced fresh rules amid China’s growing Covid19 caseload with Japan announcing on Tuesday that it was stepping up measures for travellers from China by requiring a PCR test upon arrival.

India also announced PCR tests for tourists travelling from China over the weekend and the new rules will also apply to travellers from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand.

The US government yesterday announced it will ask travellers coming from China to show a negative Covid19 test before entering the country starting on Jan 5.

With the new policy, travellers with their final destination in the US will have to test negative for Covid19 two days prior to their departure from continental China, Macao or Hong Kong, and to present that result to airport authorities before they board their flights to the US.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all travellers over age 2, without regard for their nationality, will be subject to the new health requirement.

“These data are critical to monitor the case surge effectively and decrease the chance for entry of a novel variant of concern,” the CDC said in a statement yesterday.

The US restricted the entry of various groups of international passengers after the start of the pandemic, but it lifted the last restrictions in June. At present, China is the only country to fall under any US Covid19 restrictions.

A number of scientists in the US have concerns that the new, ongoing and massive Covid19 outbreak in China could result in new variants of the virus emerging – since every infection constitutes another chance for the virus to mutate, possibly into a strain that cannot be effectively dealt with by the currently available vaccines.

In addition, the US government is concerned that Beijing’s new relaxation of its “zero Covid” lockdown policy, which had sparked widespread discontent among China’s population, will lead to a huge increase in the number of coronavirus cases there.

Other countries like Italy and South Korea already have adopted similar measures for travellers coming from China, that is requiring them to show a negative Covid19 test before they may enter those countries.