US to require COVID-19 testing for travelers from China

The United States on Wednesday announced new COVID-19 testing requirements for all travelers from China, joining other countries imposing restrictions as infections surge.

Cases have risen across China after the country lifted strict anti-virus controls. China’s “zero COVID” policy has kept the country’s infection rate low but fueled public discontent and dampened economic growth.

In a statement explaining the restrictions, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited the surge in infections and said China lacked sufficient and transparent information, including genome sequencing of the virus strains circulating in the country.

“These data are critical to effectively monitor case surges and reduce the chance of new variants entering,” the CDC said.

Some scientists worry that t China’s COVID-19 surge could unleash a new coronavirus variant It may or may not be similar to what is popular in the world now. That’s because every infection is another opportunity for the virus to mutate.

“What we want to avoid is having a variant come into the U.S. and spread like we’ve seen with delta or omicron,” said Matthew Binnick, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

But Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the CDC’s actions may be less about stopping new variants from crossing the U.S. border and more about helping to China put pressure on it to share more information, adding that he hoped the restrictions “would not take longer than needed.”

“I don’t think it will have a significant impact on slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Dowdy said. “We’ve had a lot of COVID-19 spread within our borders.”

Beginning Jan. 5, all travelers from China to the U.S. must be tested for COVID-19 within two days of travel and provide a negative test before boarding. The test is available to anyone 2 years of age and older, including US citizens.

Other countries have taken similar measures to prevent the spread of infection outside of China. Japan will require travelers from China to test negative for COVID-19 on arrival, and Malaysia announced new tracking and surveillance measures. India, South Korea and Taiwan have required virus testing for travelers from China.

The Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 22, is typically China’s busiest travel season, and China announced on Tuesday that it would resume issuing tourist passports for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020.

The U.S. action was to reinstate the requirement for some international travelers.this The Biden administration rescinded the last such authorization in JuneAt the time, the CDC continued to recommend that people boarding flights bound for the U.S. get tested close to departure time and not travel if sick.

At the beginning of the epidemic, The United States bans entry of foreigners from China, It comes weeks after the virus first emerged there three years ago. Americans were allowed to return home, and flights from China were funneled to selected airports, where passengers were screened for illness. But the virus is already circulating among people in the United States who have no travel history.

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AP Science Writer Laura Ungar contributed.

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