New Covid travel rules: 18 destinations that are reintroducing PCR tests for international arrivals

The announcements come as countries around the world grapple with a steadily increasing surge in positive cases

By Web Desk

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Published: Wed 28 Dec 2022, 7:14 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 Jan 2023, 8:50 AM

Some international travellers are facing renewed restrictions at airports as countries around the world are once again witnessing a steady increase in Covid-19 positive cases.

Some governments have reintroduced PCR testing for arrivals, while others have begun analysing swabs and conducting virus sequencing to help identify new variants of the virus.


Here are the countries that have announced stricter measures for international arrivals:

1. Qatar

Qatar on Sunday (January 1) announced a new travel requirement for all travellers coming from China into the Gulf country.


The Ministry of Public Health in Qatar released a statement saying that from 6pm on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, all passengers from China must submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result at the check-in counter. The PCR test must be taken within 48 hours of departure.

2. Australia

Australia said on Sunday that travellers from China will have to provide negative Covid-19 test results from Jan. 5, joining a growing number of nations that have implemented similar restrictions as cases surge. 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.

Citing a lack of epidemiological information and genomic sequencing data from China, Australian health minister Mark Butler said the government has decided out of an abundance of caution to require visitors to present a negative test taken within 48 hours of their departure.

3. Canada

Canada on Saturday said it will require travellers on Canadian-bound flights departing China to test negative for Covid-19.

The requirements, which take effect at 12:01am ET on Thursday, apply to all travellers two years of age and older arriving on flights in Canada originating from the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao.

Travellers will be required to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result, taken no more than two days before departure, to the airline prior to boarding. The temporary measure will be in place for 30 days and be reassessed as more data becomes available, the Canadian government said.

4. Morocco

Morocco will impose a ban on people arriving from China, whatever their nationality, from January 3 to avert any new wave of coronavirus infections, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Several countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from China due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. Thousands of tourists visit Morocco from China every year.

5. India

In light of the increasing trajectory of cases being noted in some countries across the world, India has issued updated protocol guidelines for international passengers arriving in the country.

The guidelines state that two per cent of passengers on incoming flights will undergo random testing for Covid-19 on arrival. Additionally, passengers displaying symptoms of Covid-19 during travel shall be isolated as per standard protocol.

Children under 12 are exempt from the testing – however, if found symptomatic for the virus on arrival or during the self-monitoring period, they shall undergo testing and treated as per protocol.

The country's Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also announced that RT-PCR testing will be made mandatory for international arrivals from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand. If travellers test positive or display symptoms of Covid-19, they will be put under quarantine.

6. Pakistan

International passengers arriving in Pakistan’s airports will undergo random testing for Covid-19. In a tweet, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority announced screening of 2 per cent of passengers arriving in Pakistan by international flights has started at country's major airports.

“Owing to the Covid-19 situation in the region, screening of 2% of passengers arriving in Pakistan by int'l flights has started at country's major airports. Where needed, RAT and PCR tests are being conducted too,” the tweet said. The authority also urged passengers to keep their vaccination certificate handy while at airport.

7. Japan

From December 30, the Japanese government will reintroduce mandatory testing on arrival for travellers from China due to an increase in the number of confirmed cases there, the Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday.

The measure applies to travellers from mainland China, and those who visited it within the past seven days, who will be required to take a Covid-19 test upon their arrival in Japan. Those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days.

Meanwhile, Japan has relaxed Covid restrictions that had limited flights from Hong Kong to some destinations in Japan.

8. Taiwan

Authorities have stated that Taiwan will test arrivals from China for Covid-19 from January 1, 2023, in response to a surge in cases there.

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said all passengers arriving on direct flights from China, as well as by boat two two offshore islands, will be required to take PCR tests upon arrival.

Health officials will conduct virus sequencing for those who arrive from China and test positive to track new variants of the coronavirus, it said in a statement.

The measures, which will run until the end of January, do not include those arriving from Hong Kong or Macau. Those who test positive will be able to isolate at home.

9. Italy

Italy is making coronavirus tests for visitors from China mandatory following an explosion in cases in China, the health minister said Wednesday.

"I have ordered mandatory Covid-19 antigenic swabs, and related virus sequencing, for all passengers coming from China and transiting through Italy," minister Orazio Schillaci said.

The measure was "essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population", he said.

The Italian northern region of Lombardy introduced screening from Tuesday, a day before the measure was brought in nationwide.

Lombardy, the first region to impose a lockdown when coronavirus hit Europe in early 2020, is testing arrivals from China at Milan's Malpensa airport at least until January 30, the foreign ministry said.

Swabs collected at Malpensa in recent days are already being analysed by the national health ministry, to help identify any new variants.

10. United States

The United States will require negative Covid tests from all air travellers from China following the surge in coronavirus cases in Beijing, health officials said Wednesday.

From January 5, "all air passengers two years and older originating from China will be required to get a test no more than two days before their departure from China, Hong Kong and Macau, and show a negative test result to the airlines upon departure," a federal health official said.

11. United Kingdom

The UK said on Friday that passengers arriving to England from China from Jan. 5 will need to show a negative Covid-19 pre-departure test, taken no more than two days prior to departure, according to a statement.

12. South Korea

South Korea said it would impose mandatory Covid-19 tests on travellers from China, joining other countries in taking new border measures after Beijing's decision to lift its stringent zero-Covid policies.

South Korea will also restrict issuing short-term visas for Chinese nationals until the end of the next month and temporarily halt increasing flights from China, while using Incheon International Airport as the only gateway for any flights from the neighbouring country, Prime Minister Han Duck Soo said.

Effective January 5, travellers from China would be required to submit a negative result from a PCR test within no more than 48 hours or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours before departure, and undergo another PCR test upon arrival starting January 2, officials said.

13.Spain

Spain will require a negative Covid-19 test or a full course of vaccination against the disease upon arrival for travellers from China, the country's Health Minister Carolina Darias said.

14. Malaysia

Malaysia will screen all inbound travellers for fever and test wastewater from aircraft arriving from China for Covid-19, Minister Zaliha Mustafa said in a statement.

15. Philippines

The Philippines should be "very cautious" when receiving inbound travellers from China, which is grappling with a sharp rise in Covid case numbers, the Philippine transportation minister said on Wednesday.

The Southeast Asian country could impose measures like testing requirements on visitors from China, but not an outright ban, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista told reporters.

16. Israel

The Israeli health ministry said on Friday it will impose Covid tests on foreigners intending to travel from China, where coronavirus cases have surged.

It was decided to order that foreign airlines only accept foreign citizens on a flight from China to Israel if they have tested (negative) for Covid," Health Minister Aryeh Deri said in a statement.

17. France

France will require travellers from China to provide a negative Covid-19 test result less than 48 hours before departure, the health and transport ministries said on Friday.

The test will be required on all flights from China, including flights with stopovers. Travellers on airplanes arriving from China will also have to wear masks.

18. Greece

Air travellers to Greece from China must show they have tested negative for Covid-19 48 hours before arrival, a new requirement that will be announced shortly, two government officials said on Thursday.

"Greece will require a Covid test for people that are travelling from China," one official told Reuters on condition of anonymity after a cabinet meeting. A health ministry official confirmed the decision.

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