The United States will require all travelers from China to show a negative Covid-19 test result before traveling to the country, as the rapid easing of Covid-19 restrictions by Beijing leads to an increase in the number of cases.
Federal health officials said that passengers flying into the United States from China will need to be tested no more than two days before travel, and provide proof of a negative test to their airline before boarding.
The tests can either be a PCR test or an antigen self-test administered through the telehealth service.
This requirement will apply to both passengers flying directly into the US from China as well as passengers traveling through popular third country gates, including Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver.
Travelers who tested positive more than 10 days before their flight can submit documents of their recovery in lieu of a negative test result.
The new rules go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on January 5th.
US officials have expressed deep concerns about China’s lack of transparency about the recent increase in the number of cases, particularly the absence of genome sequence information that could help detect new strains of the coronavirus.
“We know that these measures will not eliminate all risks or completely prevent infected people from entering the United States,” a federal health official said. However, “together they will help limit the number of infected people and provide us with an early warning of new variants.”
The new requirement comes as Japan and India announced Covid-19 measures for travelers from China amid fears of a surge in cases.
Japan requires individuals traveling from China to be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival from December 30. Indian authorities said travelers from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand will have to show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival in India and quarantine if they test positive.
China has begun to ease its strict Covid-19 measures after the country was dismantled Long-term non-covid policy earlier this month. China announced on Monday that it will end quarantine requirements for international arrivals from January 8, in a major step toward reopening its borders.
But the abrupt end to China’s strict health policy caught many in the country by surprise and put strain on the health system as it grapples with a surge in infections.
China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday responded to reports that the United States was considering restrictions on travelers from China, urging the parties to work together to ensure the safe movement of people between countries and the stability of the global supply chain.
“We need all parties to work together scientifically against the epidemic to ensure safe movement of people between countries, maintain supply chain stability of the global manufacturing chain and promote the resumption of healthy growth in the global economy,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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