No More Negative Pre-Departure Tests Starting April 5th

Starting on April 5th, travelers flying from mainland China to England will no longer be required to provide evidence of a negative pre-departure Covid test. This comes three months after the implementation of the policy due to a surge in cases after Beijing relaxed its zero-Covid strategy.

Increased Transparency from China

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) noted that the change is due to greater transparency from China, with more information available on testing, vaccination, and genomic sequencing results. According to the data, the Covid variants in China are similar to those already present in the UK.

Chinese Infection Peak Has Passed

The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that all regions have passed their infection peak, as stated by the DHSC.

Voluntary On-Arrival Testing Program at Heathrow Ends

The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) voluntary on-arrival testing program for passengers from China at Heathrow airport has concluded. This temporary program, initiated in January, aimed to improve Covid surveillance and detect potential new variants. During the program, 3,374 passengers were tested, with 14 positive cases detected, but none were considered variants of concern.

From March 17th, passengers aged 18 or older arriving from mainland China at Heathrow Airport will no longer be offered voluntary tests on arrival. The decision aligns with international partners, such as the EU, who are also reducing border measures related to new variants from China.

Maintaining Contingency Measures

Officials stated that the government will retain various contingency measures to allow for detection and appropriate action against potential new harmful variants if needed.

In December, it was mandated that passengers arriving in England from China provide a negative Covid test prior to boarding their flights. At that time, China reported around 5,000 daily cases, although it was suspected the actual number was closer to one million.

Countries like the US, France, and India also implemented testing requirements. Although the decision affected only English airports, the UK government worked with devolved administrations to ensure a UK-wide policy.

In January, China reopened its borders to international visitors for the first time since March 2020. Chinese officials announced later that month that the current wave of Covid-19 infections was ending. The Chinese National Health Commission ceased publishing Covid case and death data on December 25th after relaxing its zero-Covid policy and declared a “decisive victory” over the pandemic in February.