China has eased some COVID-19 testing requirements for people flying from Canada, the United States, and other countries while shortening the pre-departure quarantine for some inbound travelers.

The Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement that starting Saturday, travelers will no longer need a negative RT-PCR test seven days before flying.
Travelers flying out of Canada will still need to take the first test within 48 hours of boarding, and a second test 24 hours before their flight. The tests must be taken at a medical center recognized by China.

In addition, those travelers must take an antigen test within 12 hours before boarding, which can be administered by any Canada-approved hospital, clinic, or pharmacy.

However, China is dropping the need for antibody tests for travelers coming from Canada and the United States, according to consular notices.

Starting Friday, travelers from Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago will be subject to the same testing rules for Canadian departures.

The slight relaxations were made in response to factors including the “characteristics of coronavirus variants,” according to the notices from Chinese embassies.

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Travel in and out of China has plunged during outbreaks of COVID as the country insists on its “dynamic COVID zero” playbook that has involved restrictions on the issue and renewal of passports, and mandatory quarantines for most travelers upon arrival, and flight cancellations.

But the shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant has allowed for a slight easing of curbs on international travelers. The capital city Beijing has reduced the quarantine period at centralized facilities upon arrival for travelers to 10 days from 14 days.

The variant has led to several lockdowns of major Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, in an effort to completely curb the spread of the virus.

Embassies in the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, and Bangladesh said on Wednesday they had removed some testing requirements and shortened the pre-departure quarantine period for employees at Chinese companies to 10 days from 21 days.

Bangladesh has further reduced the pre-flight quarantine for other travelers to five days from seven days, while Serbia has halved the pre-departure quarantine time for certain personnel to one week, according to embassy notices.

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–With files from Reuters

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