Canada, Australia impose COVID rules on travelers from China

Dec 31, 2022, 9:05 AM | Updated: Jan 1, 2023, 8:40 pm
A child wearing a mask stands near light decorations at a mall in Beijing, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. C...

A child wearing a mask stands near light decorations at a mall in Beijing, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. China is on a bumpy road back to normal life as schools, shopping malls and restaurants fill up again following the abrupt end of some of the world's most severe restrictions even as hospitals are swamped with feverish, wheezing COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

              Chinese police personnel check on a man who appears unwell and resting on top of his luggages on the street of Beijing, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. China is on a bumpy road back to normal life as schools, shopping malls and restaurants fill up again following the abrupt end of some of the world's most severe restrictions even as hospitals are swamped with feverish, wheezing COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              A man wearing a mask transports used quilts and other scavenged cloth material in Beijing, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. China is on a bumpy road back to normal life as schools, shopping malls and restaurants fill up again following the abrupt end of some of the world's most severe restrictions even as hospitals are swamped with feverish, wheezing COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
            
              A child wearing a mask stands near light decorations at a mall in Beijing, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. China is on a bumpy road back to normal life as schools, shopping malls and restaurants fill up again following the abrupt end of some of the world's most severe restrictions even as hospitals are swamped with feverish, wheezing COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING (AP) — Australia and Canada have joined a growing list of countries requiring travelers from China to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, as China battles a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus after abruptly easing restrictions that were in place for much of the pandemic.

Australian health authorities said Sunday that from Jan 5. all air travelers from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao will need to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within two days of their departure.

Canadian authorities announced similar measures that will also come into effect Jan. 5 in a statement dated Saturday — a move experts say isn’t very effective.

Kerry Bowman, assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, said the requirement is “not based on science at this point.”

“This isn’t the early days of the pandemic,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that point-of-entry screening is not very effective at all. Often people can test positive days and weeks later.”

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, associate professor at University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, said it’s not entirely clear what the policy’s goals are, but such measures have not helped.

“We know from the past that very focused and targeted travel measures such as this don’t do much to prevent the spread of COVID, either by importing COVID to Canada, or by the threat of variants of concern in Canada,” he said.

Australia and Canada join other countries including the U.S., U.K., India, Japan and several European nations in imposing tougher COVID-19 measures on Chinese travelers amid concerns over a lack of data on infections in China and fears of the possibility that new variants may spread.

Research has shown how the virus spreads through human mobility, which means that the next variant of the virus may not even emerge from China, and even if it did, it could land in Canada from other indirect routes, Bowman said, adding that a more effective measure would be testing wastewater from airplanes and airports to check for the viral load and mutations.

Vancouver International Airport said Saturday it would expand its wastewater testing pilot program.

China, which for most of the pandemic adopted a “zero-COVID” strategy that imposed harsh restrictions aimed at stamping out the virus, abruptly eased those measures in December. Chinese authorities previously said that from Jan. 8, overseas travelers would no longer need to quarantine upon arriving in China, paving the way for Chinese residents to travel.

Hong Kong is also preparing for quarantine-free travel to China, with plans to resume operations of more border checkpoints as early as Jan. 8, according to a Facebook post by Hong Kong Chief Secretary Eric Chan.

However, a quota will remain in place limiting the number of travelers between the two places.

“Depending on the first phase of the situation, we will gradually expand the scale for a complete reopening of the border,” Chan said.

In China, eased restrictions meant that residents could celebrate New Year’s in large-scale gatherings that were prohibited for much of the pandemic, even though the country is experiencing a massive outbreak of cases.

“There are still some worries, more or less,” said Wu Yanxia, a 51-year-old Beijing resident who works at a logistic company. “I hope that next year everything will be normal, such as domestic travel.”

Others hope that 2023 will bring better things after a difficult past year.

“We have experienced a very uneven year, particularly unforgettable, with many things out of our imagination,” said Li Feng, a teacher in Beijing, adding that 2022 was a difficult year for both the people and the government.

“But I think we have come through and everything will be fine,” Li said. “All of us will be better, and better in both work and life.”

___

Associated Press writer Jim Morris contributed from Ottawa, Ontario.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
22 hours ago
FILE - Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman takes the stage at an election night party in Pittsburg...
Associated Press

Sen. John Fetterman hospitalized after feeling lightheaded

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democrat who suffered a stroke during his campaign last year, was hospitalized Wednesday night after feeling lightheaded while attending a Senate Democratic retreat, his office said. Initial tests at George Washington University Hospital did not show evidence of a new stroke, Fetterman’s communications director, Joe Calvello, […]
22 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden waves before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, F...
Associated Press

Focused on 2024, Biden sees opportunity in GOP-held Florida

WASHINGTON (AP) — With an eye toward the 2024 campaign, President Joe Biden on Thursday ventures to Florida, a state defined by its growing retiree population and status as the unofficial headquarters of the modern-day Republican Party. The president sees a chance to use Social Security and Medicare to drive a wedge between GOP lawmakers […]
22 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress a...
Associated Press

Biden’s oil comments spark debate over energy production

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden sparked a firestorm in energy circles when he said in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that the United States will need oil “for at least another decade.´´ Republicans in the House chamber laughed in derision at Biden’s off-the-cuff remark, which was not in his scripted speech. GOP lawmakers […]
22 hours ago
Kailani Taylor-Cribb walks through her neighborhood in Asheville, N.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. ...
Associated Press

The pandemic missing: The kids who didn’t go back to school

She’d be a senior right now, preparing for graduation in a few months, probably leading her school’s modern dance troupe and taking art classes. Instead, Kailani Taylor-Cribb hasn’t taken a single class in what used to be her high school since the height of the coronavirus pandemic. She vanished from Cambridge, Massachusetts’ public school roll […]
22 hours ago
Parents wait for news after a bus crashed into a daycare centre in Laval, Quebec, on Wednesday, Feb...
Associated Press

Driver plows bus into Canadian day care, killing 2 children

Police have charged a bus driver with first-degree murder after he drove his vehicle at a high speed into a day care center north of Montreal, killing two children, injuring six and leaving authorities searching for a motive. Witnesses say that after Wednesday’s crash, the 51-year-old driver, identified as Pierre Ny St-Amand, stepped out of […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Canada, Australia impose COVID rules on travelers from China