UK Won’t Require COVID-Positive China Arrivals to Self-Isolate: Minister

The UK government will not require passengers arriving from China to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 on arrival, a Cabinet minister has said.

From Jan. 5, people flying from mainland China to England will be asked to take a test no more than two days prior to departure.

In addition, the UK Health Security Agency will launch new surveillance measures on Jan. 8, which will see a sample of passengers arriving from China tested for COVID-19 at the point of their arrival.

But those who test positive upon arrival will not be required to quarantine, Transport Secretary Mark Harper told LBC radio on Jan. 3.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper arrives for a government COBRA emergency committee meeting at the Cabinet Office in London, on Dec. 14, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA Media)

“What we are doing is we are collecting that information for surveillance purposes,” he said, adding, “The policy for arrivals from China is primarily about collecting information that the Chinese government is not sharing with the international community.”

Harper said: “This is about a country, China, which isn’t sharing the health data with the global health system that we expect everybody to do. That is why we have put this temporary precautionary measure in place as China opens up its borders.

He said it is a “very sensible, balanced proposition” which helps keep people in the UK safe but doesn’t put any restrictions on how people in the UK are able to operate.

Post-Arrival Test ‘Optional’

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said passengers “will not be allowed to board a flight” to the UK from China if they do not have evidence of a negative test result.

But, in a separate statement, a DHSC spokeswoman confirmed that tests upon arrival in England were “optional.”

She said: “We encourage people at the border to take a test to help themselves, their families, and have wider knowledge on COVID. However, the testing is optional and people can decline if they wish to do so.”

Beijing Capital International Airport
Travelers walk with their luggage at Beijing Capital International Airport, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing, on Dec. 27, 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Downing Street said the government would set out the full details regarding new rules for travelers entering the UK from mainland China or Hong Kong “in due course.”

But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman rejected any suggestion that the new rules for Chinese travelers could signal a wider change for visitors traveling to the UK from countries with high rates of COVID-19.

He said: “Part of the reason for this was because of a lack of comprehensive health information being shared. We’re working with the Chinese government to encourage them—we’re not alone in this—to get more information from them.”

There are no direct flights from China to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, but ministers said they are working with the devolved administrations to implement the measures across the UK.

Entry Curbs

A growing list of nations has adopted entry curbs on visitors from China in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country on the heels of the Chinese regime’s abrupt lifting of stringent zero-COVID restrictions earlier this month.

In the first 20 days of December, 248 million people in China likely became infected, according to an internal meeting memo of China’s top health body that was leaked online. The number dwarfs the COVID-19 data and death tally officially released so far, which international experts have said is disproportionate to the actual scale of the outbreak.

Epoch Times Photo
Medical workers wear PPE as they arrive with a patient on a stretcher at a fever clinic in Beijing, on Dec. 9, 2022. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The US government announced on Dec. 28 that, starting on Jan. 5, all travelers from China will be required to take a COVID-19 test no more than two days before travel and provide a negative test before getting on their flight.

US officials said that the Chinese regime’s lack of transparency during the current outbreak was a key factor for the imposition of the new travel restrictions.

The US entry curbs followed in the footsteps of China’s neighboring nations and regions such as India, Malaysia, Japan, and Taiwan.

Italy, Spain, France, Australia, and Canada have also made COVID-19 testing mandatory for people arriving from China.

The Chinese regime has condemned COVID-19 testing requirements imposed on passengers arriving in some countries from China and threatened counter-measures.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Jan. 3, “We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable.”

“We are firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the COVID measures for political purposes and will take counter-measures based on the principle of reciprocity,” she added.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Alexander Zhang


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