China says Covid entry restrictions by countries have no scientific basis and are irrational

China on Tuesday lashed out at governments that had imposed travel restrictions on the country, arguing that Covid-19 measures should be “science-based” and warned of possible “countermeasures”.

More than a dozen countries, including the UK and the US, have made it mandatory for travelers from China to show a negative Covid test before arrival. Morocco has imposed a total ban on people arriving from China amid a massive spike in coronavirus cases plaguing the country.

Some federal governments have cited Beijing’s lack of transparency on infection data and the risk of new variants as reasons for the new regulations.

“Some countries have introduced entry restrictions aimed only at Chinese travelers,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning.

“It lacks a scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable,” an AFP spokesman is quoted as saying. She reportedly warned that Beijing might take “reciprocal countermeasures.”

China is facing its worst wave of Covid infections since the beginning of the pandemic after easing the draconian restrictions that were imposed as part of its “zero-Covid” policy.

Earlier, spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “China always believes that in all countries, Covid-19 response measures must be science-based and proportionate, without affecting normal travel and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation.”

He said “authoritative medical experts” from various countries said entry restrictions for travelers coming from China were “unnecessary”.

“China, in light of the propensity of Chinese people to travel abroad, will resume outbound tourism to countries where conditions permit.”

Last week, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the travel restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 cases in China were “understandable” in the “lack of comprehensive information from China”.

“…countries around the world are acting in ways that they believe can protect their populations,” Ghebreyesus said in a tweet last Thursday.

EU government health officials are expected to hold talks on Wednesday about a coordinated response to the virus outbreak in China. In a similar virtual meeting on December 29, more than 100 representatives from EU governments, EU health agencies and the WHO urged the bloc to follow suit and test travelers from China for infections.

The Australian government on Sunday cited Beijing’s “lack of comprehensive information” on Covid cases to introduce a new travel requirement that will come into effect from January 5.

The UK and US will require a negative pre-departure test for passengers from China from Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised citizens to reconsider travel to China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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