(ECNS) -- Australia will scrap the requirement for travelers from China, including Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to test for COVID-19 before departure starting from midnight on March 11, the country's health minister said on Thursday.
“This is a sensible, measured decision based on decreasing COVID-19 case numbers in China, regular data updates from China on case numbers, and the fact that we have strengthened our capacity to detect and respond to emerging variants of concern within Australia of international origin,” Australia Health Minister Mark Butler said.
Several other countries and regions have announced to eliminate similar requirements for travelers from China, such as the United States, South Korea, France, EU countries, etc.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Wednesday it will lift mandatory COVID-19 tests for travelers from China imposed in early January.
The CDC said that the "public health measure was put in place to protect U.S. citizens and communities as we worked to both identify the size of the (China COVID) surge and gain better insights into the variants that were circulating," Reuters reported.
The South Korean quarantine authority also announced Wednesday that the pre-departure COVID-19 test results required from anyone traveling from China, Hong Kong and Macao will be lifted starting Saturday, Korea Joong Ang Daily reported.
“The Covid-19 situation in China has continued to remain stable since the Chinese New Year holidays,” said Lim Sook-young, director of the infectious disease crisis response bureau at the Central Disease Control Headquarters. “And there have been no new variants of concern.”
As early as mid-February, the French embassy in Beijing said in a statement that travelers from China to France are no longer required to present the result of a negative RT-PCR test within 48 hours or fill a health declaration form."
"Random screenings on arrival are also abolished," it added.
Similarly, EU countries agreed to lift the requirement for a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test for people traveling to the EU from China by the end of February and put an end to randomly testing travelers arriving from China by mid-March.
The move is "in light of the recent epidemiological developments and taking into account the opinion of the Health Security Committee," the Swedish Presidency said in a statement.
Sweden's Public Health Agency has lifted all entry requirements for travelers from China starting February 19.
Ahead of them, Italy eased anti-COVID measures for travelers from China at the beginning of February.
At a news briefing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that China always believes that epidemic control measures adopted by every country should be scientific and appropriate.
"We hope relevant countries will work with China to make personnel exchanges between China and other nations more convenient," Mao said.