US says ‘no cause for retaliation’ after China criticises ‘unacceptable’ travel restrictions

The White House has said there is no reason for China to retaliate against countries imposing restrictions on its travellers as the measures are justified on public health grounds.

China is seeing a massive surge in Covid cases with reports of hospitals and crematoriums being overwhelmed by the sheer load of cases.

“There’s no cause for retaliation here. Just because countries around the world are taking prudent health measures to protect their citizens, that’s what you’re seeing from us and others,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.

“This decision is based on public health and science,” she said. “This is coming from our experts here and other countries.”

China earlier hit back at countries that imposed restrictions on travellers from China and labelled them as “political goals”.

The US and other countries said they will require travellers from China to show negative Covid tests before they could be allowed to enter.

The measures were taken after China grapples with the massive number of Covid cases after it scrapped its “zero-Covid” policy that has been in place since the onset of the pandemic.

“We believe that some countries’ entry restrictions targeting only China lack scientific basis and some excessive measures are unacceptable,” China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Tuesday.

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

“Due to the surge of Covid cases in the PRC [People’s Republic of China], and the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being recorded from the PRC, we’re taking deliberate, proactive steps to slow the spread of Covid and to be on alert for any potential Covid variants,” said Ned Price, the US State Department’s spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Department for Health and Social Care said the new rules were imposed because of “a lack of comprehensive health information”.

People arriving from China into Britain need to present a negative Covid test before entry. Earlier today, however, a Cabinet minister announced that travellers testing positive for Covid after arriving from China will not be forced to quarantine.

While Chinese state media continue to downplay the severity of the current outbreak, it was reported that China has shared the genomic sequence data from hundreds of Covid cases across the country to GISAID.

The international database, in a statement on its homepage on Tuesday, said no new variants have been discovered from the country.