US announces new mandatory Covid guidelines for travellers from China

The US announced new COVID-19 testing requirements on Wednesday for all travellers from China, joining other nations imposing restrictions because of a surge of infections.Beginning January 5 2023, all travellers to the US from China will be required to take a COVID-19 test no more than two days before travel and provide a negative test before boarding their flight. The testing applies to anyone 2 years and older.

Travelers coming directly from China or who were in the country 10 days before their departure to the US will have to show either a negative PCR or antigen test for the coronavirus, federal health officials said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity in a call with reporters. The requirement applies to all passengers regardless of nationality or vaccination status and will go into effect Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m. New York time.

Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before traveling can provide documentation and recovery from Covid in lieu of a negative test result, the officials said on the call. Airlines will need to confirm the negative Covid test or documentation of recovery prior to boarding flights to the US. The requirement also applies to travelers from Hong Kong and Macau.

The increase in cases across China follows the rollback of the nation’s strict anti-virus controls. China’s “zero COVID” policies had kept China’s infection rate low but fuelled public frustration and crushed economic growth.

Other countries have taken similar steps in an effort to keep infections from spreading beyond China’s borders. Japan will require a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travellers from China, and Malaysia announced new tracking and surveillance measures. India, South Korea and Taiwan are requiring virus tests for visitors from China.

Lunar New Year, which begins January 22, is usually China’s busiest travel season, and China announced Tuesday it will resume issuing passports for tourism for the first time since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

The US action is a return to requirements for some international travellers. The Biden administration lifted the last of such mandates in June. At that time, the CDC continued to recommend that people boarding flights to the U.S. get tested close to departure time and not travel if they are sick.

Early in the pandemic, the US barred entry to foreigners travelling from China, weeks after the virus first emerged there three years ago. Americans were allowed to return home and flights from China were funnelled to selected airports where passengers were screened for the illness.

But the virus already was spreading in the US among people with no travel history.

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