Australia’s government criticized Beijing on Wednesday for its lack of Covid-19 openness after Beijing’s chief medical officer was overruled and testing for Chinese travelers was intensified.
A increasing number of nations, including the US, UK, France, and Japan, have recently imposed stricter travel testing requirements on China.
China, which is dealing with an increase in cases following the relaxation of its “zero Covid” policy, has criticized the actions as “inappropriate” and threatened to take legal action.
Beginning on Thursday, travelers from Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China must test negative no later than 48 hours before leaving for Australia.
Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly advised the government against the requirement, writing in a government briefing that it lacked “sufficient public health rationale”.
“There is strong consensus that implementation of any restrictions to travel from China at this time would be inconsistent with the current national approach to the management of COVID-19 and disproportionate to the risk,” he wrote.
But Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Wednesday said the government was acting “out of an abundance of caution”.
“It’s about a part of the world where we have concerns about transparency,” he told national broadcaster ABC.
Asked if the restrictions were politically motivated, Chalmers said he didn’t “see it precisely like that”.
“There certainly is a lot of concern around the global health community about the transparency and quality of data that we see out of China on Covid.”
There haven’t been any new Covid estimates from China for more than a week, according to data published by the World Health Organization.
China was enraged in 2020 when Australia’s previous conservative government pushed for a global probe into the pandemic’s roots, which had been discovered for the first time in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The new center-left administration has been attempting to repair its ties with Beijing over the past few months.