China is set to remove the necessity for incoming travelers to provide a negative COVID-19 test outcome. China declared on Monday, August 28, that commencing from Wednesday, August 30, individuals arriving in the country will no longer need to undergo a pre-departure antigen test for COVID-19.
This move marks a significant step as Beijing slowly moves to ease its stringent Covid-related restrictions that have been in place for over two years — since early 2020.
This announcement was made by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin during a regular press briefing.
China’s strict Zero-covid guidelines remained in place for more than two years and were only abandoned in December 2022. These measures severely affected the nation’s economy and also led to a number of social disruptions.
Tourism accounts for a significant portion of China’s economy, with the comeback of Chinese tourists being crucial for regional economies.
Just a few months back, in April, China dropped the PCR test requirement for inbound travellers, and replaced it with a COVID-19 antigen test result that had to be taken within 48 hours before boarding flights.
Post Covid growth
The stringent Zero-Covid regulations had quite the impact on China’s economy. Even after they were dismissed, the nation’s post-Covid growth has witnessed a slowdown.
Due to this, on Monday (August 21st) China’s central bank cut a key interest rate — the People’s Bank of China cut the one-year loan prime rate, which serves as a benchmark for corporate loans, from 3.55 percent to 3.45 percent — to counter the slowdown in world’s second-largest economy.
As per AFP, in China, the activity has been dragged down by uncertainty in the labour marker and a weakening demand for Chinese goods globally. Economic sluggishness around the world has also contributed to this.
Zero Covid and deaths
As per a recent US study, China’s abrupt dismantling of its zero-Covid regime could have led to nearly two million excess deaths.
“Our study of excess deaths related to the lifting of the zero-COVID policy in China sets an empirically derived benchmark estimate. These findings are important for understanding how the sudden propagation of COVID-19 across a population may impact population mortality,” said the researchers.
The study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle found that the number of excess deaths far exceeded official Chinese government estimates in January.