US announces will require COVID-19 tests for travelers from China

WASHINGTON— The United States will require negative tests of COVID-19 to all air travelers from Chinaalleging that beijing does not share enough information about the rise in coronavirus cases there, a federal health official announced Wednesday.

As of January 5, “all air passengers two years of age or older originating from China will be required to take a test no more than two days prior to their departure from China, Hong Kong and Macao, and show a negative result to airlines. at the time of departure,” the official said.

“The recent rapid increase in the transmission of COVID-19 in China increases the possibility of new variants emerging,” he said.

According to the official, Beijing has provided only limited data on variants circulating in China to global databases, and testing and reports of new cases have also declined.

“Based on this lack of data availability, it is more difficult for public health officials in the United States to identify new variants that are spreading” to the North American country, he said.

The test requirement applies to air transport passengers regardless of their nationality and vaccination status, and includes people traveling to the United States from China via third countries, as well as those making a stopover at any airport. US.

Infections have multiplied in China as the main pillars of its strict health policy have been dismantled, prompting US officials to express concerns about the possible emergence of new variants.

“The international community is increasingly concerned about the continuing outbreaks of COVID-19 in China, place of origin of the virus, and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, reported” by China, the officials said.

Authorities in Beijing have admitted that it is “impossible” to trace the origin of the current outbreak and have suppressed the controversial count of infections, in addition to narrowing the criteria for calculating pandemic-related deaths.

But it is the lack of genomic data that has sparked concerns in other countries, making it “increasingly difficult for public health authorities to ensure that they can identify potential new variants and take prompt action to reduce their spread,” the US authorities said.

The United States “follows scientific data and the advice of public health experts, consults with its partners, and considers taking similar steps” as countries such as Japan and Malaysia have announced public health actions to address the spread of COVID from China.

Beijing’s relaxation of measures closes the curtain on the “zero COVID” regime, with mass testing, lockdowns and lengthy quarantines that have affected supply chains and shaken the commercial commitment of the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that countries should maintain “scientific and appropriate” controls on diseases that “should not affect normal personnel exchanges.”

FOUNTAIN: With information from AFP and AP