Chinese embassies in several countries including Russia, Egypt and Singapore have announced that travelers coming to China are allowed to use antigen tests instead of nucleic acid tests to board direct flights starting from Wednesday, a move to further facilitate international travel and inject confidence and impetus into the tourism industry's recovery worldwide.
Travelers from Russia are allowed to use antigen tests (including antigen self-testing kits) for COVID-19 before boarding direct flights to China starting from Wednesday, and the test should be carried out within 48 hours before boarding. Those with negative test results can travel to China, the Chinese Embassy in Russia declared on Wednesday.
Along with the embassy in Russia, some other Chinese embassies in countries including the Maldives, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) released similar notices on Wednesday.
Some Chinese embassies in countries such as Cambodia, Hungary, the Philippines, Laos and New Zealand issued similar notices on previous days to facilitate travel.
The moves will "inject confidence and impetus" into the tourism industry recovery worldwide, as our lives mostly have returned to a normal level like the pre-epidemic period, Wu Liyun, an associate professor at the China Academy of Culture and Tourism Industry at Beijing International Studies University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Using antigen tests instead of nucleic acid tests will provide convenience for travelers to boost tourism consumption, as well as help to speed up the resumption of international direct flights, said Wu.
Communications among countries also need to follow the principles of mutual respect and friendship. International flights and in- or out-bound tourism are expected to return gradually to pre-pandemic level this year if the situation remains stable, said Wu.
Multiple countries around the world so far have updated their entry policies, easing restrictions previously imposed on travelers from China. Starting from Wednesday, passengers from China will no longer be required to present negative nucleic acid tests before boarding and test reports will no longer be checked upon arrival in Austria, according to the Chinese Embassy in Austria on Wednesday.
Japan also eased COVID restrictions for travelers from China, removing the post-arrival test requirement starting from Wednesday. Japan will test a maximum of 20 percent of selected samples, according to the Japanese Embassy in China.
The French Embassy in Beijing announced in mid-February that starting from February 16, people traveling from China to France were no longer required to present the result of a negative RT-PCR test within 48 hours or fill in a health declaration form. Random screenings upon arrival were also removed.
Health experts from 27 EU member states agreed in mid-February to phase out the requirement for a negative pre-travel COVID-19 test by the end of February. Random checking of arrivals from China will be removed around mid-March, Reuters reported.