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Canada to require negative COVID-19 tests for air travellers from China

The measures follow similar rules recently implemented in countries like the U.S. and U.K.

Canada will soon require a negative COVID-19 test from all air travellers entering the country from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao.

Starting 12:01 EST on Jan. 5, all travellers older than the age of two will need to provide the negative test, taken no more than two days before departure, if their flight originated in any of the three areas.

According to a news release from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), proof of a negative COVID-19 test can include a negative molecular (such as a PCR test), or a negative antigen test with documents showing it was monitored by a telehealth service, accredited laboratory or testing provider.

"Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before their departure flight, but no more than 90 days, can provide the airline with documentation of their prior positive, in place of a negative test result," the PHAC added.

The planned health measures, which apply to any traveller regardless of their nationality or vaccination status, remains in place for 30 days and will be reassessed pending more information on the situation.

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The measures follow similar rules recently implemented in other countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.

Following major protests several weeks ago, China decided to ease some of its "zero-COVID" policies. Earlier this week, the country also announced it would resume issuing passports and visas for overseas trips.

However, it's a move that could set up a swath of travellers from China heading abroad for the Lunar New Year in January.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization's director-general, said this week that the body needs more information about China's situation regarding COVID-19, following a virtual meeting to discuss the surge.

China is currently facing a surge in COVID-19 cases after loosening some of its
China is currently facing a surge in COVID-19 cases after loosening some of its "zero-COVID" policies. (Reuters/Aly Song)

"In the absence of comprehensive information from China, it is understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways that they believe may protect their populations," Ghebreyesus said on Twitter on Thursday.

"We remain concerned about the evolving situation and we continue encouraging China to track the COVID-19 virus and vaccinate the highest risk people. We continue to offer our support for clinical care and protecting its health system."

In a New Year's address, Xi Jinping said China "stands on the right side of history" despite being questioned about his government's handling of COVID-19 and other challenges.