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Canada, Australia, Morocco join countries imposing COVID restrictions on Chinese travelers

Chinese travelers leaving the arrival hall of Rome Fiumicino airport in Italy on December 31, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Canada, Australia, Spain, and Morocco have become the latest countries to impose travel restrictions on arrivals from China following a surge in COVID-19 cases there.

Citing concerns over a wave of new infections and the lack of information on variants from China, more than a dozen countries have imposed fresh COVID-19 restrictions on travelers from China, where COVID-19 cases have been on a rising slope following its relaxation of "zero-COVID" rules.

Morocco on Saturday opted for the extreme end to the solution by straightaway banning all travelers from China.

The Moroccan foreign ministry said in a statement that authorities in the North African country "decided to forbid access to territory of the Kingdom of Morocco for all travelers, whatever their nationality, coming from the People's Republic of China."

Australia, Canada, and Spain also agreed to stick to a mandatory negative COVID-19 test upon arrival.

The Australian health minister, Mark Butler said that the decision was taken out of "caution" and that it’s "temporary."

"The government has decided out of an abundance of caution, to require travelers from China to submit evidence before boarding their flight that they are having a negative COVID test,” Butler said, adding that “this is a temporary measure reflecting the lack of comprehensive information right now about the situation in China."

The requirement will also apply to visitors from Hong Kong and Macau. The government is also considering additional measures including testing wastewater from airplanes and voluntary sampling at airports for arrivals, Butler told a news conference.

A Canadian government release also read, “These planned health measures will apply to air travelers, regardless of nationality and vaccination status.”

“They are temporary measures, in place for 30 days, that will be reassessed as more data and evidence becomes available.”

Spain will also require a negative COVID-19 test or a full course of vaccination against the disease upon arrival for travelers from China, the country's Health Ministry said.

Ever since China relaxed its strict measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the country has experienced a surge of cases that has led to outpouring hospitals and prompting countries including US, UK, France, Japan, Italy, Malaysia, India, Taiwan, South Korea and Morocco to impose restrictions on Chinese travelers.

Back in December, China said that it would end mandatory quarantine for people arriving in the country and that it had abandoned strict measures to contain the virus.

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it had repeated a request to China's health officials to regularly share specific and real-time information on COVID-19 in the country, including more genetic sequencing data and figures on hospitalizations and deaths.

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