Skip to main content

Covid-19: Qatar to require negative tests for arrivals from China

Doha latest to impose measures following relaxation of Chinese 'zero-Covid' policy, as Morocco enforces outright ban
Passengers walk through a departure terminal of the international airport in Beijing on 29 December 2022 (AFP)
Passengers walk through a departure terminal of the international airport in Beijing on 29 December 2022 (AFP)

Qatar has become the latest nation to require travellers from China to take a Covid-19 test before arrival, the state news agency QNA said on Monday. 

From Tuesday, those arriving from Chinese shores to the Gulf nation will need to provide a negative test taken within 48 hours of departure, irrespective of their vaccination status.

Doha joins the United States, India, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Spain, France, the UK and Israel, among other countries, which have imposed similar measures.

The restrictions come following a surge in cases in China after it relaxed the stringent “zero-Covid” policy. 

Beijing’s strategy over the past three years of strict lockdowns, border controls and mass testing has fuelled public anger and stifled economic growth.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


But the abrupt u-turn on "zero-Covid", which includes incoming travellers not having to quarantine from 8 January, could lead to millions of people being infected a day, health experts have warned.

Several countries imposing travel restrictions have cited a lack of epidemiological information from China. 

Last week, the World Health Organisation urged Chinese officials to regularly share specific and real-time information on the Covid-19 situation in the country.

Morocco bans travellers from China

On Saturday, Morocco became the first nation to outright ban arrivals from China.

The foreign ministry said that in order to “avoid a new wave of contaminations” access to the country would be prohibited to travellers from China “regardless of their nationality”.

Rabat added that the measures “do not in any way affect the strong friendship between the two peoples, and the strategic partnership between the two countries”.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists visit Morocco each year, particularly since the North African country waived visa requirements in 2016 for Chinese nationals visiting for less than 90 days. 

Last month, Morocco’s health ministry approved the use of China-made Convidecia Air, the world’s first inhaled Covid-19 vaccine. It marked the first "overseas approval" of the vaccine, the manufacturer said at the time. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.