Coronavirus: Australia to impose mandatory COVID-19 testing on travellers from China as cases skyrocket

Australia will impose mandatory COVID-19 testing on travellers from China as cases in the Asian giant skyrocket.

Starting January 5, travellers from China, Hong Kong and Macau will need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test within 48 hours before travel and show a negative result. 

Coronavirus cases have surged in China after it relaxed its strict zero-COVID policies last year following unprecedented public protests against lockdowns and mass testing.

Australian health minister Mark Butler said the tests were necessary due to the "significant wave" of COVID-19 infections in China and the potential for new viral variants.

"The decision to implement these temporary measures has been made out of an abundance of caution, taking into account the dynamic and evolving situation in China and the potential for new variants to emerge in an environment of high transmission," he said.

He added the government will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation both in Australia and internationally, in collaboration with medical experts.

"Our absolute priority is keeping our community safe and continuing to be a world leader when it comes to responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic," he continued.

"This small but sensible move will help to protect people who are at risk of severe illness and safeguard our healthcare system."

Australia's move to mandatory COVID-19 testing sees it join countries including France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Spain, the Republic of Korea, England and the US.

So far, New Zealand doesn't require a negative test. Government spokesperson MP Stuart Nash told Newshub a public health risk assessment is underway which will be completed in the next 24 hours.

"Our response will remain proportionate to the potential risks posed by travellers and in the context of the international situation," he said.