Thailand, New Zealand leaders not planning to impose new Covid-19 restrictions on travellers from China

Thailand called its preparedness "first-rate", while New Zealand said the risk to public health was "minimal".

Tan Min-Wei | January 04, 2023, 03:58 PM

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Thai and New Zealand leaders are currently not planning to implement additional travel restrictions on visitors from China.

This comes after several countries have imposed new restrictions on travellers from China, following a surge in Covid-19 cases after it reversed its Zero Covid policy.


The Bangkok Post reported on Jan. 4 that Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said Thailand is ready to handle the return of travellers from China.

Prayuth said that Thailand's measures in managing the pandemic were "first-rate" and served as a model for other countries.

Health minister Anuit Charnvirakul mirrored Prayuth's confidence.

While not giving any guarantees about imposing restrictions on travellers from China, he gave an optimistic assessment of Thailand's preparedness for the resumption of China travel.

Charnvirakul said that there would be no lockdowns, crediting the ability of vaccines to protect against severe symptoms and death.

He also guaranteed that there were sufficient medical personnel and supplies.

'Consider economic matters'

In an earlier statement on Dec. 29, Charnvirakul said that Thailand did not expect a sudden influx of travellers from China, claiming that China was itself imposing its own PCR testing regimen for travellers, regardless of whether they were entering or leaving the country.

According to the Bangkok Posthe said:

"Disease control measures will focus not only on public health but also economic benefits. We must consider economic matters… Many Thai people have been vaccinated. There are medicines and hospitals for infected people. Arrivals will not pose any serious risk. We will treat Chinese visitors like those arriving from other countries."

China's guidelines do not appear to require a PCR test to board a flight, and numerous recent Weibo posts seem to suggest that there is no test requirement for travellers from China.

Thailand ministry may still propose additional measures

Charnvirakul had said earlier that there would be no special measures for visitors from China.

However, this appears to be at odds with officials from his ministry, who have proposed an additional ART test two days before travelling to Thailand.

Chakrarat Pittayawonganon, chief of the Division of Epidemiology, said that the proposal also calls for all international arrivals to show proof of full vaccination (two jabs), while visitors from China should have insurance that covers Covid-19 treatment.

Thai ministers are meeting on Jan. 5 to decide on measures.

New Zealand

New Zealand's health minister Ayesha Verrall said that her country would not impose mandatory Covid tests on travellers from China, saying the risk to public health was "minimal", according to the New Zealand Herald.

However, the New Zealand government would introduce a voluntary participation random testing regime, as well as consider testing the wastewater of incoming flights, a move similar to Malaysia's.

Verrall highlighted the availability of free ART test kits from New Zealand's airports and that travellers presenting with covid symptoms should test themselves.

She also said that there was a minimal public health risk because the dominant BF7 variant in China had not caused "significant outbreaks" in countries already exposed to the BA5 variant, such as New Zealand.

Verral added that it was important to note that variants could arise from any country so it was important for all arrivals, regardless of country, to be vigilant for symptoms.

However, Verrall said that New Zealand also shared the World Health Organisation's concerns about a lack of information sharing on China's Covid situation.

Discriminatory measures

Concern has been mounting globally about the rising number of Covid cases in China, coupled with the country's prospective reopening to the world.

Reuters recently reported that Chinese state-media has called measures targeting travellers from China as "discriminatory".

Singapore's own Ministry of Health is monitoring the situation, but does not currently intend to impose any new restrictions.

In a press release, it pointed out that some measures remain in place, such as requiring a negative test before departure for non fully vaccinated travellers, and it stands ready to update the measures should the situation warrant it.

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Top image via Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa/Unsplash