China temporarily bars Indians from entering country over Covid concerns

China temporarily bars Indians from entering country over Covid concerns

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China temporarily bars Indians from entering country over Covid concerns

China has temporarily suspended entry of foreign nationals in India to the country due to the Covid pandemic. The decision comes after almost 20 passengers of an Air India (AI) Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) Delhi-Wuhan flight of October 30 tested positive on arrival last week. AI had planned four flights to China between November 13 and December 4 which could now be impacted.

The Delhi-Wuhan-Delhi flight that was to operate on Friday has been cancelled as it “does not have approval of Chinese authorities” for the same, said a senior airline official. China has imposed a similar temporary ban on travellers from Belgium, UK and Philippines for the same reason.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s hereby announced that China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals in India holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits. The Chinese Embassy/ consulates in India will not stamp the health declaration forms for the holders of the above-mentioned categories of visa or residence permits,” the Chinese Embassy in India said in a statement on its website on Thursday.

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“Foreigners holding Chinese diplomatic, service, courtesy and C visas are not affected. Foreigners with emergency or humanitarian needs to visit China, can submit visa application to the Chinese Embassy/ consulates in India.

The entry into China with visas issued after November 3, 2020, is not affected,” it said, adding the “suspension is a temporary measurement that China has to adopt to deal with the current pandemic. China will make further adjustment and announcement in accordance with the ongoing pandemic situation in a timely manner.”

This decisions comes three days after China issued fresh guidelines for airlines flying passengers to the country. “In order to reduce cross-border transmission of Covid-19, starting from 00:00 hours (India time) on November 7, 2020, all Chinese and foreign passengers bound for China will be required to take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests and apply for a green health code with the ‘HS’ mark or a certified health declaration form before boarding the flight,” the notice to “airline boarding requirements for certificates of negative nucleic acid and IgM antibody tests results” issued on November 2 said.

“All passengers taking charter flights or special flights from India to China arranged by the government of China or India, are required to take double nucleic acid tests and one IgM anti-body test of Covid-19, in labs authorised by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), with the samples of the first nucleic acid test collected within 72 hours (3 days) before boarding, and the samples of the second nucleic acid test and the IgM anti-body test collected within 36 hours before boarding,” the November 2 notice had said.

“For passengers of Indian charter flights or special flights, certificates of negative results of the three said tests along with the personally signed health declaration form shall be sent through the ministry of external affairs of India to the Chinese embassy in India for verification and stamping at least 24 hours before boarding,” the November 2 notice had added.

This decision had come after AI’s Delhi-Wuhan VBM flight of October 30 with 277 passengers saw 19 testing Covid positive on arrival in the origin city of the global pandemic and another 40 found to have Covid antibodies. China’s special administrative region of Hong Kong suspends airlines for 14 days if five or more passengers on any single flights test positive for the virus on arrival. Hong Kong has so far barred AI four times and Vistara once during the pandemic for this reason. AI will operate a special Delhi-Hong Kong on November 9 and return sector the next day.

Air India spokesperson had said: “All our passengers to Wuhan had boarded the flight from Delhi with Covid negative reports from certified labs. AI strictly adheres to all the safety protocol laid down by regulatory bodies and conforms to requirements at destination airports. There is no question of passengers boarding any of our flights without valid covid negative reports.”

AI has operated six flights to China so far during the pandemic, with the first two being on January 31 and February 1 to fly back Indians from Wuhan.