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Canada to Drop Mandatory COVID-19 Testing for Air Travellers From China

Travellers walk with their luggage at the departure hall of the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong on Dec. 30, 2022. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Canada is dropping the COVID-19 testing requirement for air travellers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau that went into effect after the Beijing regime announced a sudden reopening of China’s borders in January.

The temporary pre-departure testing requirement will be dropped as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on March 17, 2023, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement on March 16.

“Air travellers to Canada on flights originating from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao will no longer be required to provide evidence of a COVID-19 test result before boarding. This means that there will no longer be any federal COVID-19 border measures in place after that time,” the statement said.

The measure was first put in place on Jan. 5, which PHAC said was “in response to the surge of COVID-19 in the People’s Republic of China and given the limited data available at that time on those cases.”

A number of other countries introduced similar measures at the time, as China saw an explosive number of infections and deaths after the Chinese Communist Party abandoned its draconian zero-COVID policy on Dec. 7, 2022. China officially reopened its borders on Jan. 8, allowing residents to travel outside the country after three years of lockdowns and personal restrictions.

PHAC told The Epoch Times that its decision to drop the temporary testing requirement is based on several factors, including data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the international community suggesting a decrease in the number of COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths in China.

The agency also said available data from China and traveller-testing by other countries have not shown any new variants being detected originating from China. Canada’s wastewater testing programs have also not detected new variants, PHAC said.

“COVID-19 case counts in Canada have remained stable and hospitalizations have peaked,” the agency added.

Media reports, however, have shown a discrepancy in the COVID-19 data provided by Chinese authorities and the actual number of cases, with the World Health Organization and other experts raising concerns that the number may be significantly underreported.

When asked about these concerns, PHAC didn’t immediately provide a response.

The Epoch Times also reached out to Transport Canada on whether the mandatory COVID-19 testing requirement would be revived if Canada sees an increase in COVID following the lifting of the measure, but didn’t hear back immediately.