China finally lifts travel restrictions three years after COVID-19 emerged
Borders reopening in time for Lunar New Year celebrations
The Chinese government has fully lifted restrictions on domestic travel and international border crossings after years of closure and citywide curfews throughout the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic .
The country is now open for foreign travellers who will no longer be subjected to a mandatory five-day quarantine , a significant shift in the national COVID guidelines first implemented in March 2020 . However , travellers to China still need to provide negative PCR test results within 48 hours of their departure .
Considered ground zero for the COVID outbreak in Wuhan province , China had taken extensive measures to curb the virus , notably by enforcing its highly stringent zero-COVID policy . The strict guidelines applied the “ Find , Test , Trace , Isolate , and Support ” ( FTTIS ) concept , including measures such as mass testing , contact tracing , and stringent lockdowns . Other countries with high COVID cases , such as Australia , Vietnam , and South Korea , also applied similar standards .
The Chinese government now anticipates its population of 1.4 billion will once again be moving freely for the upcoming Lunar New Year festivities . Airports in major cities such as Beijing , Guangzhou , and Shenzhen also expect an influx of foreign tourists from countries such as Singapore , Canada , and New Zealand .
Economists predict that the reopening of borders will result in China ’ s GDP growth exceeding five percent and a gradual recovery of Chinese travellers contributing one-fifth of global travel as it returns to pre-pandemic levels , The South China Morning Post reported .
Macao emerges as medical tourism hub in China ’ s Greater Bay Area
The move recommended by the central government aims to diversify the city ’ s economy
China ’ s Special Administrative Region ( SAR ) of
Macao has rolled out several initiatives to establish itself as a medical tourism destination in the Greater Bay Area that encompasses Hong Kong and several Chinese provinces . One of the proposals requires major gaming establishments to develop large healthrelated initiatives and medical-tourism resorts .
“ We demand that bidders increase and improve the image of Macau as a world centre for tourism and leisure , through health and well-being , and introduce activities and projects that can promote health-oriented tourism products and also attract highly skilled manpower ,” said Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong to the Macau News Agency , adding that the programme was one of the prerequisites for casinos to renew their licenses .
The SAR is well-known for its casinos and tourist attractions that draw up to 39 million travellers annually . The local government expects that the development of medical tourism resorts can complement the Islands Hospital , which will serve as a public hospital and provide medical tourists with private medical services , reported the International Medical Travel Journal .
The healthcare facility is scheduled to open this year and will be run by the Peking Union Medical College Hospital ( PUMCH ), a teaching hospital based in Beijing renowned for its multidisciplinary specialists equipped with state-of-the-art healthcare technology .
Secretary Elsie was optimistic about the prospects for the sector . “ In the future , we will have the Islands Health Care Complex , as well as the ‘ big health ’ industry developed by the ‘ resorts ,’ so we have good expectations for this industry .”
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