Netherlands, Malta and Portugal to require negative COVID test from China air travellers

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The Maltese, Dutch and Portuguese governments on Friday joined a growing number of nations requiring air passengers arriving from China to show a negative COVID-19 test upon entry.

On Friday, Malta announced that as of the 9th of January arrivals from China have to be in possession of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test from Monday to be allowed into Malta. The announcement was made through a legal notice issued by the Superintendent of Public Health. Malta’s decision follows a number of other EU countries who are imposing mandatory tests for Chinese visitors following the surge in cases in China. According to the new legal notice, travellers will have to perform the test no more than 48 hours prior to their arrival in Malta. Children who are 11 years old or younger are exempt.

The Dutch measures, which will come into force on Tuesday, are in line with European Union recommendations, the health ministry said. “I think it is important for us bring in travel restrictions as part of European anti-COVID measures,” said Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said. Amsterdam-Schiphol is one of Europe’s biggest airports and is a hub for numerous intercontinental flight connections.

Portugal will require air travellers from China to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test done no more than two days before departure, the health ministry said on Friday, following other nations that have implemented such restrictions.

The requirements take effect at 12 a.m. (0000 GMT) on Sunday and “airlines are responsible for complying with the measure on boarding,” it said in a statement.

It said that passengers on flights from China could be subject to random testing on Saturday “for genomic sequencing of the variants in circulation, in order to contribute to an adequate assessment of the epidemiological situation”.

Authorities around the world are imposing or considering curbs on travellers from China as COVID-19 cases there have been surging following relaxation of “zero-COVID” rules. China has rejected criticism of its COVID data.

EU experts on Wednesday “strongly encouraged” the bloc’s 27 member states to demand COVID tests from people on flights from China and conduct random tests on arrivals.

Several other EU nations—including Germany, France, Germany, Italy and Spain —- have already announced COVID test requirements on those arriving from China.

The United States and Japan are among the non-European countries to have brought in similar measures.

Reuters / AFP / CDE

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