A day before the proposal was announced, Australia’s top medical officer specifically warned the Albanese administration not to mandate COVID-19 testing for travellers from China.
Paul Kelly informed Health Minister Mark Butler in a letter dated December 31 that the decision lacked a “sufficient public health reason.” The letter was revealed late on Monday night.
Australia instituted mandatory testing for travellers from China on January 1st, joining the United Kingdom, the United States, and France in doing so.
Australia’s government criticised Beijing on Wednesday for its lack of Covid-19 openness after Beijing’s top medical officer was overruled and testing for Chinese travellers was intensified.
A increasing number of nations, including the US, UK, France, and Japan, have lately imposed stricter travel testing requirements on China.
China, which is dealing with an increase in cases after the relaxation of its “zero Covid” policy, has criticised the actions as “inappropriate” and threatened to take legal action.
Beginning on Thursday, travellers from Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China must test negative no later than 48 hours before leaving for Australia.
Paul Kelly, chief medical officer of Australia, urged the government against the proposal, claiming that it lacked “adequate public health justification” in a government briefing.
There is broad agreement that implementing travel restrictions from China at this time would run counter to the country’s present COVID-19 management strategy and be excessive given the danger, he stated.
Jim Chalmers, the treasurer, however, said on Wednesday that the government was acting “out of an excess of caution.”
He said to national network ABC that it was “about a region of the globe where we have concerns about openness.”
Chalmers said that he didn’t “see it quite like that” when asked whether the limits had political motivations.
The openness and quality of the data coming out of China on Covid are definitely causing a lot of anxiety in the global health community.
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 last several months.