During a news forum held at the Dapo Restaurant, South Triangle, Quezon City last Saturday January 7, 2023, Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz provided updates on how the PH – China relations. He immediately shared the news that talks are ongoing to have direct flights resumed to several areas in China, namely, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Beijing.
Again, he made this very clear that talks are still ongoing about the matter considering that there is still an ongoing coronavirus situation at the moment in China. The news comes as China drastically shifted away from its zero-COVID policy, prompting a wave of infections across the nation, with estimates above 300 million COVID infectees.
The wave has also breached Macau, as authorities chose to eliminate entry requirements in line with mainland China’s policies, causing at least 70%of the population to be infected.
The proposed routes to be opened are those connected to Guangzhou, Xiamen and Beijing.
“Mayroon nang pag-uusap ang mga airline natin sa kanilang counterparts to resume direct flights, siguro gradual (Our airlines do have discussions with their counterparts to resume flights, but maybe gradual),” FlorCruz said. “Dahan-dahan po (ito). Maingat din ang ating mga airline (This would be done slowly because our airlines are being careful).”
He also shared that China is expected to lift its travel controls for outbound and inbound travel starting January 8, 2023.
“Halimbawa ‘yung 48 hours for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. Iyong outbound, ang alam ko magbubukas na, ili-lift na ‘yung restriction halimbawa papuntang Hong Kong at eventually sa ibang bansa (For inbound, they will lift the 48-hour PCR requirement. From what I know, they would also open gates for outbound, for example those going to Hong Kong and eventually to other countries),” he said.
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In reference to what news agency, Xinhua relayed in a report in December, processes for inbound travellers now no longer need to apply for a health code from the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions starting Sunday. They would simply need to declare their health status on the customs card.
On the other hand, those who are reflecting to have abnormal health status declaration or fever symptoms will receive an antigen test at customs and self-isolate. Isolation will last until they have recovered or are treated in a hospital — depending on what the conditions are at that time.
Xinhua also revealed that airlines will continue to carry out disinfection on board and passengers are required to wear masks when flying.
Currently, there are already some countries that have re-imposed restrictions on travellers from China — such as requiring a Covid-19 test before boarding. Among the countries that have reimposed this rule are the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India and Japan.
The current situation in China is still volatile with the current surge picking up the pace at an unprecedented rate. Based on the analyses by Chinese experts presented to the World Health Organization, the BA 5.2 and BF.7 Omicron sublineages account for 97.5% of all local infections in China.
Before the pandemic, China was the Philippines’ second top market for tourists, making up 1.74 million of the total 8.26 million international arrivals in 2019.
As we tread very carefully on this decision, hopefully, the situation in China improves. It is risky business if plans of action will let a totally new and unknown albeit fiercer subvariant of COVID-19 stray into the country. Any thoughts on this? Just comment below. Crossing my fingers as well that we’ll be ready for whatever is coming if COVID-19 reveals another chapter for the world to grapple with.