The US will require COVID-19 testing for travelers from China

A recent spike in COVID-19 cases in China follows the country’s easing of strict anti-virus controls.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. on Wednesday announced new COVID-19 testing requirements for all travelers from China, joining other nations in imposing restrictions due to a surge in infections.

That Rise in cases across China follows the rollback of the nation’s tight antivirus controls. China’s “zero-COVID” policy had kept China’s infection rate low but fueled public frustration and dampened economic growth.

In a statement explaining the restrictions, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited the rise in infections and the lack of adequate and transparent information from China, including genome sequencing of virus strains circulating in the country.

“This data is critical to effectively monitor the rise in cases and reduce the chance of a new variant of concern emerging,” the CDC said.

Some scientists are concerned tThe COVID-19 surge in China could unleash a new coronavirus variant in the world that may or may not be similar to those circulating now. Every infection is another possibility for the virus to mutate.

“What we want to avoid is that a variant enters the United States and spreads, like we’ve seen with Delta or Omicron,” said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

But the CDC’s actions may be less about stopping a new variant from crossing US borders and more about increasing pressure on China to share more information, said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, added he hopes the restrictions “will not be maintained any longer than necessary.”

“I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Dowdy said. “We already have quite a number of transmissions of COVID-19 here within our borders.”

Beginning January 5, all travelers from China to the United States must take a COVID-19 test no more than two days before travel and present a negative test before boarding their flight. The test is for people 2 years and older, including US citizens.

Other countries have taken similar steps to prevent infections from spreading beyond China’s borders. Japan requires travelers from China to test negative for COVID-19 upon arrival, and Malaysia announced new tracking and surveillance measures. India, South Korea and Taiwan require virus tests for visitors from China.

The Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 22, is usually China’s busiest travel season, and China announced on Tuesday it will be issuing tourism passes for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020.

The US action is a return to requirements for some international travelers. That The Biden administration rescinded the last of those mandates in June. At this point, the CDC continued to recommend that people boarding the United States get tested just prior to departure time and not travel if they are ill.

At the beginning of the pandemic The US bans entry for foreigners traveling from China, Weeks after the virus first appeared there three years ago. Americans have been allowed to return home, and flights from China have been directed to select airports, where passengers are screened for illnesses. But the virus was already spreading among people with no travel history in the United States. The US will require COVID-19 testing for travelers from China

Laura Coffey

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