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Several nations place restrictions on travellers from China amid Covid wave

South Korea has taken steps to limit travellers from mainland China, imposing visa restrictions, testing requirements and limiting flights as Beijing grapples with a surge in Covid-19 infections.

“Until the February next year, those entering (South Korea) from China will be required to undergo a Covid test before and after their arrivals,” Seoul’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said on Friday.

Travellers from China must provide a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before boarding a plane to South Korea or a negative antigen test within 24 hours before departure.

They will also be required to undergo a PCR test within the first day of their arrival, Han said.

South Korea will also restrict the issuing of short-term visas to Chinese nationals, excluding public officials, diplomats and those with crucial humanitarian and business purposes, until the end of January next year.

Seoul’s decision joins a list of growing countries —  including Spain, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, India, and the United States — who have announced their own measures, which they say are a bid to avoid importing new coronavirus variants from China.

READ MORE: Global alarm grows as Covid infections surge in China

Monitoring arrivals

Malaysia also said on Friday that it will screen all inbound travellers for fever and test wastewater from aircraft arriving from China for Covid-19.

The Health Ministry is taking preventative measures as the country faces a risk of an influx of coronavirus cases from abroad, Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear when the new measures would take effect.

Spain also will ask travellers from China to show “proof that they are negative… or a full vaccination list”, Health Minister Carolina Darias told a press conference on Friday.

Earlier this week, Italy made coronavirus tests for visitors from China mandatory.

China’s hospitals have been overwhelmed by an explosion in cases after Beijing began unwinding hardline controls that had torpedoed the economy and sparked nationwide protests.

READ MORE: US to require negative Covid tests for visitors from China

China’s data ‘transparent’

China has said the data it publishes on Covid-19 deaths has always been transparent, state media reported on late Thursday, despite the official figures being tiny compared with other countries and its hospitals overwhelmed with infections.

“China has always been publishing information on Covid-19 deaths and severe cases in the spirit of openness and transparency,” said Jiao Yahui from the National Health Commission (NHC) told reporters.

China said this week it would end mandatory quarantine on arrival, after earlier in the month announcing it had abandoned a raft of tough measures to contain the coronavirus.

The world’s most-populous country will downgrade its management of Covid-19 from January 8, treating it as a Class B infection, rather than a more serious Class A infection.

READ MORE: China to resume issuing passports, visas as Covid restrictions ease

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