Travellers from China are likely to require a negative Covid-19 test before flying to the UK amid concerns over surging cases and possible new variants emerging in the Asian country.
Ministers had earlier said the situation was being kept under review as Beijing announced plans to start reissuing passports and visas for overseas trips.
A number of countries, including the US, India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan, responded by requiring visitors from China to be tested after the lifting of restrictions caused a wave of infections.
Some Tory MPs had called for a more robust response from the Government, even as the chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, said the imposition of travel measures was unlikely to stop variants reaching the UK.
It is understood that the Government has moved to align with the US, in part due to concerns about the lack of reliable Covid-19 data from China.
The move is expected to be precautionary and temporary, with the hope that China will improve its Covid-19 surveillance.
Sir Andrew said on Friday morning: ‘Trying to ban a virus by adjusting what we do with travel has already been shown not to work very well. We have seen that with the bans on travel from various countries during the pandemic.’
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘The important thing is that we have surveillance that when a virus is spreading within our population here in the UK or Europe we are able to pick that up and predict what might happen with the health systems and particularly the more vulnerable in the population.’
Tory MP David Davis suggested that mandatory testing for those coming from China was a ‘pretty sensible requirement’.
‘If somebody turns up with the next virulent variant from China, we want to have processes in place – I think the Government should certainly consider it and I would ideally implement it,’ the former cabinet minister told LBC.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, called testing a ‘minimal effort’.
The Conservative MP told LBC: ‘Let’s get testing in place for passengers regardless of nationality of all incoming flights from China.
‘Do we want to take a risk after all that we’ve been through in this pandemic?’
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