People are seen waiting at the arrivals area of terminal 5 at Heathrow International airport.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
LONDON — The UK’s Transport Department said Thursday there were currently no plans to reintroduce Covid-19 tests or additional requirements for travelers arriving into the country.
It comes as several nations announced new measures in response to China’s relaxation of Covid restrictions amid a suspected surge of infections but reduced domestic testing. Beijing on Monday dropped its quarantine on arrival policy, leading many to book their first overseas trips in years.
Italy, the center of Europe’s initial outbreak in early 2020, on Wednesday became the first country in the region to announce that mandatory antigen swabs would be required of all travelers coming from China. On one Dec. 26 flight from China into Milan’s Malpensa Airport, 52% of passengers tested positive for Covid, la Repubblica reported.
Italy’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases also reportedly called for an increase in testing for those arriving from China.
“It would be better if the coordination of surveillance should take place at European level,” the institute said, according to a translation by the Ansa news agency.
The U.S. said from Jan. 5. all arrivals from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau must supply a negative Covid test taken within two days of departure.
India will require a negative test from passengers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand, with passengers put into quarantine if they have a positive test or display Covid symptoms. Japan will perform tests on arrival for passengers from mainland China, Reuters reported.
The U.K. government is expected to monitor the situation through Thursday and could announce a change in policy, especially if a wave of other European countries reintroduce testing.
Officials have cited a lack of published information from China on new variants as a reason to strengthen precautions.
Beijing says its latest outbreak is down to the highly transmissible, but less deadly, omicron variant. But a lack of data and the country’s track record of obfuscating reality has meant that many nations are taking a cautious approach.