China Mandates Pre-Departure Covid-19 Tests For Arrivals

A Dec 27, 2022 notice by the Chinese embassy in Malaysia states that from Jan 8, China-bound travellers must take an RT-PCR test within 48 hours before flight departure and show a negative result.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 – From January 8, all inbound travellers to China are required to show a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before flight departure. 

A travel notice updated December 27, 2022, by the Chinese embassy in Malaysia stated that China-bound travellers are no longer required to obtain health code from the Chinese Embassy or Consulates General in Malaysia before departure.

Travellers need to declare the negative test result to China Customs by filling a Health Declaration Form.

The pre-departure test requirement applies to all visitors coming to China, regardless of which country they’re flying from.

China also does not require on-arrival RT-PCR testing for inbound travellers. In the case of a positive test result or symptoms like fever detected by China Customs, travellers must take an antigen test. Those who test positive will need to self-quarantine.

Malaysia’s Cabinet is expected to decide today on whether to implement additional travel restrictions on arrivals from China, after several countries – including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Korea – enforced pre-departure testing mandates on visitors from China.

DW reported the European Commission as saying yesterday that an “overwhelming majority” of the 27-member European Union (EU) want pre-departure testing for passengers arriving from China – due to the lack of transparency and incomplete data on Covid-19 infections in China.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa told reporters yesterday that the issue of travel restrictions would have to be decided collectively by the Cabinet, saying it involved national security and the economy besides public health.

So far, Dr Zaliha has only announced measures like wastewater surveillance on planes arriving from China, as well as temperature screenings for all overseas arrivals, even though Covid-19 can be transmitted from people without symptoms.

The health minister also said mask mandates would not return for indoor public areas or flights, claiming that planes have “good ventilation systems”, as she repeated the Ministry of Health’s “strong” encouragement for people to voluntarily mask up in crowded areas.

“We sound ambivalent and uncertain when we use terms like ‘encourage/strongly encourage’ in our guidance. If we’re serious about protecting the vulnerable, masking in enclosed public spaces would help; protecting both the wearer and those around him. A simple intervention to save lives,” tweeted infectious disease expert Dr Christopher Lee in response.

“And why would the general public feel encouraged to wear masks when the majority of our leaders, including ministers, walk around in crowded places unmasked. Our public messaging is inconsistent. My apologies, YB @Zaliha_DrZ but your advice doesn’t seem to be heeded by your fellow ministers,” he added.

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