The federal government will require COVID-19 testing for travellers coming into Canada from China, Hong Kong and Macau.
The measures follow similar implemented rules from other countries, including the U.S. and Japan, as China grapples with a surge of the virus.
China recently reversed public health measures under its “zero-COVID” strategy that kept the country in isolation for nearly three years and announced this week plans to reissue passports and visas for overseas trips.
This could send many Chinese abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday in January, raising concerns about possible virus spread and the risk of mutations to the virus amid rapid spread.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Friday said China continues to monitor the virus mutations and share information, and stressed the importance of science-based approach.
Some European nations have tightened COVID rules for flights from China. On Friday, authorities in France, Spain and England said tougher measures for passengers arriving from China will be implemented.
France’s government is requiring negative COVID-19 tests from travellers coming from China and is urging French citizens to avoid nonessential travel to the country. France is also reintroducing mask requirements on flights from China to France.
French health authorities will carry out random PCR tests at airports on passengers arriving from China to identify potential new coronavirus variants. The new rules take effect on Sunday, but officials said it would be a few days before they are fully in place.
The U.K. government recently announced that anyone travelling to England on direct flights from China would be required to take a pre-departure test from Jan. 5.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said that the U.K. was taking a “balanced and precautionary approach.” He described the measures as “temporary” while officials assess COVID-19 statistics.
Spain’s government said it would require all air passengers coming from China to have negative tests or proof of vaccination.
Health Minister Carolina Darias told reporters that Spain would be pushing for similar measures at a European level following the surge in cases in China. She said coronavirus health controls would be stepped up at Spanish airports.
Darias didn’t specify when the new requirement would take effect.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the body needs more information on the severity of the outbreak in China.
“In the absence of comprehensive information from China, it is understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways that they believe may protect their populations,” he said Friday on Twitter.
“In order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the COVID-19 situation on the ground in China, WHO needs more detailed information.”
–With files from The Associated Press
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