Spain becomes second European country to introduce Covid checks on passengers from China

Several countries have introduced fresh Covid checks after China lifted its stringent zero Covid policies. Credit: AP

Spain has joined a growing list of countries to implement mandatory Covid tests for passengers from China.

The government announced on Friday that all travellers will have to provide a negative test or proof of vaccination when entering the country.

Health Minister Carolina Darías told reporters that Spain would be pushing for similar measures at a European level following the surge in cases in the East Asian country.

She said coronavirus health controls would be stepped up at Spanish airports, but didn't specify when the new requirement will take effect.

The US, Italy, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan announced new screening measures following the end of Beijing’s zero-Covid policy.

Health officials from the 27-member European Union on Thursday promised to continue talks on seeking a common approach to travel but held back from imposing restrictions.

Italy has begun testing passengers travelling from China. Credit: AP

Ms Darías said: "There exists a shared concern internationally and nationally over the evolution of cases in China and the difficulty to make a correct evaluation of the Covid-19 situation given the scant information that we have available."

She noted that China would be lifting travel restrictions from January 8 and there was likely to be a major increase in people travelling abroad.

She said the chief concern was the possible emergence of new coronavirus variants and it was important to act fast.

The United States announced new Covid-19 testing requirements on Wednesday for travellers from China, joining some Asian nations that had imposed restrictions.

Japan on Friday started requiring tests for passengers arriving from China.

Meanwhile, the UK said the decision to implement Covid checks on visitors from China is "under review".

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace appeared to backtrack on the government's stance following criticism, and said he "expected to see clarification" from the Department for Transport "in the next day or so".

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Asked about the government’s position on Thursday, Mr Wallace replied: “The government is looking at that, it’s under review.

"We noticed obviously what the United States has done and India and I think Italy has looked at it.

“We keep under review all the time, obviously, health threats to the United Kingdom, wherever they may be.

“I think the Department of Transport will take medical advice, talk to the Department of Health and they’ll come to some decisions depending on what we see coming out of China, but at the moment it’s under review.”

A government spokesperson said in a statement: “We are keeping the situation under review and UKHSA is monitoring the public health situation. At the moment there are no plans to introduce any new covid 19 testing for arrivals.”