Czechia will not test Chinese visitors for Covid

The Czech Health Ministry doesn't plan to introduce them given the absence of direct flights between the Czech Republic and China.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 06.01.2023 14:52:00 (updated on 06.01.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czechia does not plan to require Covid tests from people coming from China, as there are no direct flights between the two countries. Instead, the Czech Health Ministry will coordinate its steps on the EU level for now.

China has seen a sharp resurgence in Covid cases since it loosened its restrictions at the end of last year, and will further ease travel restrictions as of Jan. 8.

Obligatory Covid testing for travelers from China to Europe is only useful for countries with direct flights from China, the Health Ministry said in a press release.

Austria, Belgium, Sweden, and Germany on Thursday said they would start to require Covid tests from travelers from China. France, Italy, and Spain already require tests.

“In the event of the introduction of a direct line between China and the Czech Republic, we are ready to introduce [testing] as well,” the Health Ministry said. Other EU members that do not have direct air connections with China are following similar procedures.

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“The main benefit of the tests is the sequencing of samples to check for mutations circulating in China, not just the detection of Covid-positive people,” the Health Ministry said.

The Health Ministry is calling on healthcare providers to ensure that a positive sample from a person who has been in China in the past two weeks is sequenced so potential new variants can be detected early.

So far, this is a preventive step since according to the latest available information, similar variants of Covid-19 prevail in China as in the EU.

“The reason the epidemiological situation in the EU is more stable than in China is the high vaccination coverage with quality vaccines in the EU,” the Health Ministry said.

EU has set voluntary guidelines

The EU members on Wednesday agreed on a coordinated but voluntary precautionary approach in the light of Covid developments in China.

  • The EU recommends that all passengers on flights to and from China to wear a medical mask or respirators.
  • EU members are strongly encouraged to require a negative Covid test not more than 48 hours old from all passengers departing from China.
  • Members are encouraged to introduce random testing of passengers arriving from China and the sequencing of all positive results.
  • Testing and sequencing of wastewater from airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China is also recommended.
  • EU countries should also continue to promote vaccine sharing and the uptake of vaccines, including booster doses, particularly among vulnerable groups.

The Czech Health Ministry said that its current position complies with the ECDC and EU recommendations and that it will evaluate any changes in recommendations.

China says testing is politically motivated

Chinese officials have criticized the testing requirements, saying that they are politically motivated and not based in science.

“Health experts from many countries have said that the main variant now spreading in China has previously been found elsewhere already, and that a new variant can emerge anywhere on the planet, which means entry restrictions targeting China are unnecessary,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a press conference.

China currently requires foreign visitors to produce a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country. A requirement to quarantine for eight days after arrival will be canceled this weekend, though.

The EU is not alone in taking steps to stop the spread of Covid from China. The U.S., India, the UK, Japan, and Australia have also announced tougher measures.

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