China says Covid entry restrictions by countries lack scientific basis and are unreasonable

China on Tuesday hit back at governments who have imposed travelling restrictions on the country by arguing that Covid-19 measures should be "science-based" and warned of possible “countermeasures”.

More than a dozen countries, including the UK and the US, have made it mandatory for travellers from China to show a negative Covid test before arrival. Morocco has imposed a complete ban on people arriving from China over the monumental rise in coronavirus cases plaguing the country.

Some federal governments have cited Beijing’s lack of transparency around infection data and the risk of new variants as the reason behind new regulations.

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable," the spokesperson was quoted by AFP as saying. She reportedly warned that Beijing could take "countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.

China has been facing its worst wave of Covid infections since the beginning of the pandemic after it eased draconian restrictions, which were imposed under the “zero-Covid” policy.

Earlier, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said: “China always believes that for all countries, Covid-19 response measures need to be science-based and proportionate without affecting normal travel and people-to-people exchange and cooperation.”

He said the “authoritative medical experts” from different countries had said entry restrictions on travellers arriving from China were “unnecessary”.

“China will, in light of the Chinese people’s inclination for outbound travel, resume outbound tourism to countries where conditions allow.”

Last week, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the travel restrictions imposed in response to China’s Covid cases were “understandable” in the “absence of comprehensive information from China”.

“...countries around the world are acting in ways that they believe may protect their populations,” Mr Ghebreyesus said in a tweet last Thursday.

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The EU government health officials are expected to hold talks on Wednesday on a coordinated response to the virus surge in China. At a similar virtual meeting on 29 December, over 100 representatives from EU governments, EU health agencies and the WHO urged the bloc to follow its lead and test travellers from China for the infection.

The Australian government on Sunday cited Beijing’s “lack of comprehensive information” about Covid cases to introduce the new travel requirement, which will take effect from 5 January.

The UK and the US will require a pre-departure negative test for passengers from China starting Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised citizens to reconsider travel to China, Hong Kong and Macau.