australian aviation logo

Airports ask whether China transits will need COVID tests

written by Adam Thorn | January 2, 2023

Rob Finlayson shot this Cathay Pacific 777-300ER in Sydney

The Australian Airports Association has called for “urgent clarification” as to whether passengers transiting through Hong Kong would be expected to provide a negative COVID test before boarding their flight.

Chief executive James Goodwin told The Sydney Morning Herald he believed the rules should be based on the point of origin country as long as the passenger doesn’t leave the airport.

“The Australian government authorities need to ensure passengers and airlines are aware of the rules and protocols because we don’t want to see problems with arriving travellers at Australian airports,” he said.

It comes after the federal government performed a U-turn on Monday and said those arriving from China would be required to show proof they didn’t currently have the virus. The decision followed similar moves by countries including the UK, US and Italy.

China is set to fully open its border by axing quarantine on 8 January, and the new rules will come into effect on Thursday, 5 January.


However, there have still been no details as to whether the changes would affect transit passengers or whether a PCR or RAT test would be preferred.

The change has been controversial, with many epidemiologists arguing testing would make little difference to a virus now epidemic in Australia.

Health Minister Mark Butler even admitted to ABC’s Radio National that there was “no evidence right now” of any new variants in China.

“And the evidence does suggest that the main driver of this very large wave in China is a variant of Omicron,” he said.

“It’s a variant that we’re familiar with. It’s been in Australia for several months.”

However, Butler argued that the World Health Organisation had pointed to a lack of information from China that would allow scientists to spot the emergence of variants that could develop.

“As well, what we’ll be doing is looking to introduce wastewater testing from aeroplanes that land in Australia,” he said.

“That’s an Australian innovation that’s been picked up by America and some other countries.

“That again gives us a good line of sight, if there are COVID cases coming into Australia, what the variants are in and very early information about the possibility of a new variant emerging as well.”

There are currently few airlines flying commercially between China and Australia, with Qantas not adding the country to its ongoing network plan.

Australia first opened its border in November 2021 to residents and citizens before following through to students, backpackers, and skilled migrants.

In July 2022, vaccine mandates for international travellers were also removed.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.