Asian strict covid border restrictions frustrate summer plan of Sheffield’s international students

Students looking to return home for the summer have faced tough and changing restrictions as they try to travel back to Asian countries.

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has swept through the region since it was first detected earlier this year. In order to reduce the imported cases from overseas, tight border restrictions are widely adopted by some countries.

According to current travel restrictions in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, health monitoring and pre-departure PCR tests from authorised laboratories are compulsory restrictions for inbound travellers.

Jing Wang, a Chinese student from the University of Sheffield, thinks that the demanding restrictions does influence her plan in summer.

She said: “The Chinese border restrictions now are too harsh, the length of quarantine is unreasonable. It is unbelievable that travellers have to spend nearly a month in quarantine.”

Air tickets from the United Kingdom to China rising as direct flights are unavailable under flight suspension mechanism. As of 8 April, 2022, a total of 1555 flights have been suspended under this policy.

Jing spent over £3,000 for an indirect flight ticket by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Manchester to Shanghai in March. However, it was cancelled due to the suspension mechanism.

She added: “I am so disappointed. Even if you bought an exorbitant ticket, you still cannot travel back to China.”

Aaron Wang, a Chinese student from Sheffield, said he had already given up his plan to go to China in Summer.

He said: “The flight tickets are so expensive, I would rather stay in the UK this summer. My summer holiday is nearly over when I finish my quarantine.”

Travel Restrictions for China residents:

  1. Conduct a first nucleic test 7 days before boarding.
  2. Complete a personal health monitor form.
  3. Finish the second nucleic and an IgM antibody test 48 hours before departure.
  4. Quarantine at a designated place depending on the local pandemic situation.

Due to the Zero-Covid policy proposed by the Chinese government, long quarantine periods are troubling the summer plan of international students. In Beijing quarantine policy, 28 days of quarantine is required. (14 days’ centralised quarantine at a designated site + 7 days’ home quarantine + 7 days’ health monitoring)

Hong Kong leaders have said there are no plans to further ease border controls as the city remains cautious about Covid-19 despite reducing cases.

Jessie Chan, a Hong Kong student from London, said: “I will go back to Hong Kong in summer. I hope the government can relax the border restrictions for people who have been vaccinated.”

Not only travelling back to their home country, boarder restrictions also affect students in an exchange programme.

Winne Tsang, a Hong Kong student, is going to exchange in Taiwan from this summer. She said: “I am worrying my exchange programme will be cancelled because of the pandemic in Taiwan. The restrictions are keep changing, it is unpredictable how the policy is in summer.”

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