Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese supports health advice for Chinese travelers not required to present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival as concerns emerge over new COVID-19 variant entering Australia doing.
That’s because the United States, Italy, India, Japan, and Taiwan moved to require all travelers from China to be tested for COVID-19, leading to a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases.
On December 29, Albanese told reporters that his government would be guided by advice from health experts on testing Chinese travelers for COVID-19.
“There is no change to our travel advice at this time, but we are continuing to monitor the situation as we continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 here in Australia as well as around the world,” he said.
However, Albanese has not ruled out mandating travel restrictions in the future.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on 29 December that the main variant currently believed to be circulating in China had already spread across Australia in July. said it had spread to
“The biggest issue to watch in China is the emergence of other variants, which have not yet occurred at this stage,” Kelly said, adding that this was a “dynamic situation,” and that the He added that events need to be closely monitored.
Kelly said China has a population with “very low immunity” as the government has pursued a zero-case policy since the pandemic began.
“In the end, it always happened that we were going to be faced with a very large number of non-immune people when they started to have similar reactions to other parts of the world. rice field.”
Mr Kelly said the mutation that spread across Australia in 2022 had created “high hybrid immunity” and that high vaccination coverage, antiviral treatment and testing could help Australians “well enough out of the serious problem of COVID-19”. He added that it means “protected”.
COVID-19 cases sweep across China
In the first 20 days of December, 248 million people in China may have been infected, according to an internal meeting memo of China’s top health authority that was leaked online. This figure understates the official COVID-19 data and death toll so far, and international expert and local evidence is grossly out of proportion to the true scale of the outbreak. indicates that
Australian epidemiologist Angela Webster said Australia needs to better understand the epidemiology that could spread in China, with uncontrolled infections leading to new variants.
“There’s been a lot of calls for China to be more transparent about what’s going on,” Webster told ABC.
“A new variant could spread rapidly in China and thereby spread around the world, but we weren’t prepared and didn’t learn much before it happened. .
“We may need to resume more regular testing here to make sure the incoming variants aren’t completely different,” she said.
Albanese urged people to take care of their health as cities and towns across Australia prepare to celebrate New Year’s Eve without COVID-19 restrictions for the first time in two years.
“Don’t relax. COVID is still there,” he said.
Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said the Albanian government had to follow health advice regarding the arrival of Chinese nationals and feared an increase in cases in China as Australia is a popular tourist destination. said that it is necessary to
“What we have to make sure is that we are well informed of all the risks,” he said.
December 28, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced From 5 January, all air passengers aged 2 years and above, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, must have a negative COVID-19 test result at least 2 days before departure from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau. must be presented.
A person who has tested positive more than 10 days before the flight can show proof of recovery in lieu of a negative test result. At least one of two documents is required to board a flight to the United States.
US officials on Dec. 27 confirmed that the Chinese regime’s lack of transparency during the current outbreak was a key factor in imposing new travel restrictions.
Albanian government urges Chinese travelers not to be tested
Business and higher education groups urge Albanian government to discourage U.S. and other countries from following suit by imposing testing requirements on Chinese tourists who warn tens of billions of dollars could be at risk urged.
China remains Australia’s largest international student market, accounting for over $40 billion in 2018-19.
Phil Honeywood, CEO of the Australian Institute of International Education, was reported to have said that if any restrictions were imposed on Chinese travelers, international students should be given priority entry. Australian person.
“We have heard a lot from the tourism industry about the need to prioritize tourists and working holiday makers.
“But all the data shows that full-paying international students from China are bringing far more to our economy than temporary or working holiday visitors. “
Australian Tourism Industry Council Victorias spokesperson Felicia Mariani said China is a “key market” for Australia and should be approached with caution if it is perceived as a COVID-19 threat. rice field.
“Pre-pandemic, they were our highest spending market and also had the highest number of foreign visitors who have been here for some time,” Mariani reported to The Australian.
“At the same time … we need to manage this process very carefully and take advice from health experts in this regard so that we can see how the government manages the resurgence of this important market. I hope you make wise decisions about what is best for you.”
In the year to November, 70,080 Chinese tourists entered Australia, up from 1,433,000 in 2018-19.
On December 21, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss human rights, trade blockades and global security.
It was the first official visit to Beijing by an Australian minister in three years, and Mr Wong’s visit hinted at a possible thaw in diplomatic ties between Australia and China.
Eva Fu and AAP contributed to this report.