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Greece Will Not Impose COVID Travel Restrictions From China

Greece China travel restrictions
No evidence that a new variant has emerged in China, Greek authorities say. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece has no intention of imposing restrictions on travelers from China over COVID-19, Greece’s National Public Health Organization (EODY) announced on Saturday.

“Our country will not impose restrictive measures for international movements, in accordance with the recommendations of international organizations and the EU,” EODY said in a press release.

The recent surge of infections in China following the easing of COVID-19 response measures is not a point of much concern in terms of the course of the pandemic. There is currently no evidence that a new variant has emerged, the statement added.

Greek authorities remain vigilant in protecting public health, as the European Union (EU) follows developments closely. China is lifting international travel restrictions in early January, EODY said, and arrivals from China to EU member states are expected.

Air China launched a new direct flight between China’s largest city Shanghai and Athens in late December at Athens International Airport (AIA), the first direct flight between the two cities.

Passengers were welcomed by Air China and AIA officials with balloons, desserts, and a mascot during an event at the check-in area.

It is one of two direct flights operated by Air China each week, linking Greece to China.

The Athens-Beijing direct air link, inaugurated in 2017, was suspended in the winter of 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The route resumed this summer.

Greece follows EU advice on China travel restrictions

On Thursday, the European Union’s health agency said new blocwide measures in response to China’s decision to lift its COVID-19 travel ban were not necessary.

Despite an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections, China is easing its curbs on travel to and from the country following protests against its strict zero-COVID policy.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said it considered “screenings and travel measures on travelers from China unjustified.”

The agency said in a statement that the BF7 omicron variant prevalent in China was already circulating in the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) and that its threat had not significantly grown.

“Given higher population immunity in the EU/EEA, as well as the prior emergence and subsequent replacement of variants currently circulating in China by other Omicron sub-lineages in the EU/EEA, a surge in cases in China is not expected to impact the COVID-19 epidemiological situation in the EU/EEA,” the ECDC said.

Some countries impose restrictions on travelers from China

However, some countries are now becoming wary that the return of travelers from China could spark a COBID-19 resurgence in their own populations.

Passengers departing mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau will require a negative COVID-19 test taken within forty-eight hours before traveling to Australia. The temporary measure, which will begin on January 5th, has been put in place because of a “lack of comprehensive information” about the situation in China, Health Minister Mark Butler said Sunday.

Travelers entering Canada from mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau aged two years and older will need to provide evidence of a negative PCR COVID-19 test or rapid antigen test.

The UK has introduced a requirement for negative COVID-19 tests for all travelers arriving from China, according to a government travel advice. Starting on January 5th, anyone traveling to England from mainland China on direct flights will be asked to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test to be checked by airlines before departure.

The US will require airline passengers coming from China to show a negative COVID-19 test result regardless of their nationality or vaccination status from January 5th.

Travelers who were also in the country ten days prior to their departure to the US will have to present either a negative PCR or antigen test, federal health officials said on Wednesday. The requirement also applies to travelers from Hong Kong and Macau.

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