The United States will impose mandatory COVID-19 tests on travelers from China, U.S. health officials said, joining India, Italy, Japan and Taiwan in taking new measures after Beijing’s decision to lift stringent zero-COVID policies.
Beginning on Jan. 5, all air passengers 2 years old and older will require a negative result from a test no more than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong or Macao.
Passengers who test positive more than 10 days before a flight can provide documentation of recovery in lieu of the negative test result, the federal officials said.
They attributed the change in policy to the lack of information on variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and concerns that the increased number of COVID cases in China could result in the development of new variants of the virus.
The United States also is expanding its voluntary genomic sequencing program at airports, adding Seattle and Los Angeles to the program. That brings the total number of airports gathering information from positive tests to seven.
In an abrupt change of policy, China this month began dismantling the world’s strictest COVID regime of lockdowns and extensive testing, putting its battered economy on course for a complete re-opening next year.
The lifting of restrictions, following widespread protests against them, means COVID is spreading largely unchecked and likely infecting millions of people a day, according to some international health experts.
Beijing has faced international criticism that its official COVID data and its tally of deaths are inconsistent with the scale of its outbreak.