On Friday, Aryeh Deri, the newly appointed Health Minister, announced new testing requirements for COVID-19 that would be applicable to incoming travelers from China.
This saw Israel join other countries in imposing restrictions due to a rise in infections. This is the first decision that Deri has taken since he took office on Thursday.
It comes after China lifted its strict zero-COVID policy, which had kept infection rate low, but had frustrated the public and battered economic growth.
The Health Ministry was told to let airlines know that non-Israelis should not be allowed to come from China without a negative PCR test.
Deri first consulted senior officials of the Health Ministry before issuing the said order. However, this is not applicable to Israeli citizens traveling from China.
But, they have also been told to not travel to the country unless absolutely necessary. Deri also gave the order of setting up voluntary testing stations at the Ben Gurion airport for those coming in.
This move from Israel comes after a number of other countries also imposed testing requirements on people coming from China.
Israel had reopened its skies in March of 2022, after putting some of the toughest travel restrictions earlier.
Starting from January 5th, all travelers from China to the United States would have to take a COVID-19 test at least two days before traveling.
Plus, they would also have to present a negative test when they board the flight. On Wednesday, the US said that the rules were applicable on everyone two years and above.
Similar steps have been implemented by other countries in order to keep the infections from spreading, which are already rampant in China.
A negative COVID-19 test would be required from travelers from China upon their arrival in Japan, while new surveillance and tracking measures were announced by Malaysia.
Taiwan, South Korea and India have also imposed a test requirement from all Chinese visitors. Starting from January 22nd, the Lunar New Year is the busiest travel season for China.
The country already announced that it would start issuing passports for tourism, something that it has not done since the pandemic started back in 2020.
The US action
The United States has imposed the requirements on some international travelers. The last of such requirements had been lifted by the Biden administration in June.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recommended at the time that those taking flights to the US not travel if they are sick and take a test before departure time.
In the starting days of the pandemic, the US had imposed a complete ban on travelers from China, just weeks after the coronavirus had emerged.
Americans in China had been allowed to return, but the flights had been allowed only at selected airports where people had been tested for the disease.
Nonetheless, the virus had already begun to spread in the country, even amongst people who did not have any travel history.