Beijing’s sudden pivot away from containing Covid-19 has caused jitters around the world, with the United States saying it will require negative Covid tests for travellers from China following its decision to end mandatory quarantine for overseas arrivals.
China late Monday scrapped quarantine for inbound travellers from January 8 onwards, dismantling the last remaining piece of its stringent zero-Covid policy and ending some of the world’s harshest border restrictions.
The move was greeted with jubilation by Chinese citizens, who rushed to book international flights, triggering a surge in ticket prices.
Hospitals and crematoriums across China continue to be overwhelmed by an influx of mostly elderly people.
AFP reporters saw dozens of mostly elderly Covid patients lying on gurneys in overflowing hospital emergency wards in Tianjin, 140 kilometres (87 miles) southwest of the capital Beijing Wednesday.
Medical staff are “pretty much all” expected to continue working despite testing positive for the virus, one doctor said.
Other countries have expressed concerns about the potential for new variants to emerge as China battles the world’s biggest surge in infections.
The United States will require negative Covid tests from all air travelers from China, saying Beijing is not sharing enough information about the surge in coronavirus cases there, health officials said Wednesday.
Countries including Japan, India and Italy have introduced PCR testing on arrival for Chinese passengers.
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