File image of Malaga Airport / SUR

Spain announces new Covid restrictions for travellers from China

The Spanish government will require a negative Covid-19 test or a certificate of being fully jabbed with an approved vaccine, following the explosion of cases in the East Asian country

ÁLVARO SOTO / ZIGOR ALDAMA MADRID.

The Spanish government will require a negative Covid-19 test result or a certificate of having received a full vaccination schedule for all passengers travelling from China to Spain, the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, has announced today, 30 December.

Spain is taking measures similar to those announced by countries such as Italy, the United States and China's neighbours Japan, India, Malaysia and Taiwan in the face of the rebound in cases in the Asian country.

“There is a shared concern at the international and national level for the evolution of infections in China and for the difficulty that exists when it comes to being able to make a correct assessment of the situation due to the scarce information that exists. The case of China is unique because of the 'zero Covid-19' policy that it has had or because of the low vaccination rates," explained Darias, who showed her "concern" at the possibility of the appearance of new variants, once the virus circulates freely in the Asian country.

Approved vaccines

The vaccines that the Chinese travellers have received must be those approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), the minister revealed. Most of the Chinese population have received vaccines produced in that country, Sinovac and Sinopharm, which in trials have obtained less efficacy than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the most used in Europe and the United States.

The Ministry of Health had already recommended on Thursday that Spanish citizens travelling to or from China should have a "complete vaccination schedule" and that they maintain "precautionary measures."

“The pandemic has taught us many lessons. We have a robust surveillance strategy and a very powerful vaccination strategy and now it is a matter of persevering and maintaining that situation," said Darias. "We are monitoring and obtaining information through the different channels because we know that one of the issues that worries the most is the lack of information," she added.

'Zero Covid' policy

In the midst of the worst wave of infections of the entire pandemic, China has dismantled the 'zero Covid' policy and has announced that on January 8 it will open its doors wide to foreign travel. Citizens will be able to leave freely and will only need a negative PCR test to return.

According to forecasts by the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), this could encourage 60 million people to travel outside its borders. 120 million if you count those who visit the regions of Hong Kong and Macao.

These are figures that are still far from the record of 170 million registered before the pandemic, but they have alarmed governments around the world. Many fear that they could cause a new wave of infections globally. After all, almost half of the passengers who arrived in Milan on Wednesday aboard two flights from China tested positive. And the most worrying thing for scientists, although most consider it unlikely, is that this tsunami of infections in the most populated country on the planet could lead to a new strain that escapes the protection of vaccines.

The Chinese government, which has kept its borders tightly closed and has even imposed a 28-day quarantine on all arrivals from abroad, has now criticised the restrictions on its citizens abroad. Spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, demanded that the world strip itself of "political prejudices and manipulations" to give a "scientific and fair" response, ignoring the fact that it is the opposite of what Beijing has done since 28 March, 2020.

Faced with criticism of a lack of transparency, Wang stated that "China's epidemic situation is predictable and under control," although many hospitals are overcrowded, the death toll is growing despite the fact that reliable statistics are not provided and the country has banned the export of paracetamol and ibuprofen, whose stocks are low, following the script of the start of the pandemic, when it restricted the shipment of masks and other medical products abroad.