France imposes a Covid test on travelers coming from China

Travelers from China will have to present a negative test at the start of their flight to France, the government has ruled.


Faced with the massive rise in Covid-19 cases, several European states are asking travelers coming from China to present negative tests before boarding.

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HAShen China experienced an explosion in cases of Covid-19 infections, several European states decided to impose specific restrictions on travelers from this country. After Italy and Spain, the French government announced on Friday December 30 that it would now be necessary for travelers departing from China to present a negative test within 48 hours in order to be able to embark for France.

Other tests will be carried out on arrival at random, the positive samples being the subject of sequencing in order to detect possible new variants of the virus, indicated at a press conference a government source. Travelers “will have committed” on departure to “self-isolate” if they test positive on arrival, the government source said.

The random PCR test on arrival and the obligation to wear a mask will be effective from Sunday 1 January. As for the implementation of the mandatory negative test on departure, it will be subject to a “small delay” of a few days, for “questions of passenger organization”, argued the government. In addition, wearing a mask will be compulsory on board flights departing from China to France.

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A “very atypical situation”

Three years after the appearance of the first cases of coronavirus in Wuhan (center), China put an end to its draconian policy known as “zero Covid” on December 7. Since the lifting of restrictions, Chinese hospitals have been overwhelmed by a surge of patients, most of them elderly, and vulnerable, as they have been little or not vaccinated.

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Despite the epidemic rebound, the authorities will end on January 8 the mandatory quarantines on arrival in China, and authorize the Chinese to travel abroad, after three years of frustration. “Flows from China are limited at this stage: we are talking about 3,000 people arriving in France per week, all at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport” near Paris, noted a government source. But “they could increase in the coming days,” she observed.

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According to another government source, France has “no element to speak of the existence of a new variant” in China. But the country, weakly immunized, is in a “very atypical situation” which leads the authorities to consider that it could be “a factor in the emergence of new variants of the virus”.

A decree by Elisabeth Borne published in the weekend

As a precaution, a growing number of countries, including the United States, European and Asian nations and Israel, have announced that they will require passengers from China to test negative. A European health agency, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), however, considered that the introduction of screening in the EU would be “unjustified”, given the level of immunity in Europe and the presence of the same Covid variants as in China.

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Meeting in Brussels on Thursday, representatives of European health ministers did not define a common position. “Discussions are continuing with our European partners in order to coordinate measures to prevent and monitor the epidemic,” the government wrote in a press release. A decree from Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne on the French restriction measures will be published over the weekend “and notified to the European Commission and to the Member States of the EU”, the same source indicates.

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France also recommended at the beginning of the week to travelers who plan to go to China, especially to fragile or immunocompromised people, to postpone their trip. She advises those who could not postpone it to have a complete and up-to-date vaccination schedule and to respect barrier gestures.

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