UK joins countries screening arrivals from China for COVID – POLITICO

LONDON – The UK has joined several other European countries as well as the United States, India and Japan in announcing COVID-19 testing for arrivals from China, after a spike in cases following Beijing’s decision to end its zero-COVID policy.

Britain will require travelers arriving from China to test negative from January 5, the government announced on Friday evening. « The decision was made to introduce these measures specifically for arrivals to China due to a lack of comprehensive health information shared by China, » the health department said in a statement.

« The situation remains under review and the UK is working with China on next steps. If there are improvements in information sharing and greater transparency, then the temporary measures will be reviewed. »

As well as pre-departure testing, the UK Health Security Agency will also test a sample of passengers arriving in England from mainland China from January 8, when China will reopen its borders.

The UK government is under increasing pressure from some Tory MPs to implement measures, with Steve Brine, Tory chairman of the health select committee, telling BBC Radio 4 that it would be better to ‘overreact rather than under -react ». select committee Tobias Ellwood too called for the UK to follow the US in imposing testing on visitors from China.

The decision comes although there is not yet scientific consensus that screening arrivals from China will be useful. The European Center for Disease Control said such measures were « unjustified ». Scientific advisers also told ministers that test arrivals would not make much difference, The Times reported.

Even Andrew Pollard, chairman of the UK’s Joint Committee on Immunization, said that « trying to ban a virus by adjusting what we do with travel has already proven not to work very well and we’ve seen that with the bans of various countries during the pandemic.

« The probability of emergence of variants [in China] is the same as other places where there are waves of COVID,” Pollard told Today on BBC Radio 4. “And the variants that are emerging in China are the ones that will be best suited to spread through a population China, which compared with countries like the UK. is far less experienced with COVID.

But what has raised concerns is the limited information coming out of Beijing. The United States said this was one of the reasons for their testing before departure from China. World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that to carry out a full risk assessment, the WHO needs more detailed information from China.

« In the absence of complete information from #Chinait’s understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways they believe can protect their people, » he tweeted.

Britain joins Italy and Spain in Europe in announcing tougher border control measures on China following the country’s easing of longstanding COVID-19 restrictions . The division on the issue at the EU level has raised concerns about disjointed European responses, contrary to plans to maintain a coordinated response to health threats.

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