US to ease COVID testing rules for travelers from China

The people, who were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the administration decided to roll back testing requirements because cases, hospitalizations and deaths were declining in China and the U.S. was getting better. information about. the influx.

The restrictions were implemented on December 28 and took effect on January 5 amid a surge in infections in China. after the country eased pandemic restrictions and as US health officials express concern that their Chinese counterparts are not being honest with the world about the true number of infections and deaths. the Washington Post first reported Tuesday about the administration’s expected move.

At the time, US officials also said the ban was necessary to protect US citizens and communities because there was a lack of transparency from the Chinese government about the extent of the outbreak or variants circulating within China.

As part of its response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year expanded genomic surveillance to several US airports, collect voluntary samples from passengers aboard hundreds of weekly flights from China, and the testing of wastewater aboard airplanes. The Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance Program will continue to monitor travelers from China and more than 30 countries.

The rules imposed in January require travelers to the US from China, Hong Kong and Macau to carry a Testing for COVID-19 no later than two days before travel and provide a negative test before boarding their flight. The test is available to anyone 2 years and older, including US citizens.

It also applies to people traveling from China via a third country and to people connecting in the US on their way to other destinations. Anyone who tests positive more than 10 days before the flight can provide documentation showing that they have recovered from COVID-19 instead of a negative test result.

Airlines are now required to confirm negative tests and document recovery before passengers board.

China has seen infections and deaths surge after it withdrew from its “zero COVD” strategy in early December after unprecedented public protests against a policy that confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests and calls for President Xi Jinping to resign.

But as China eases its strict rules, infections and deaths have surged, and parts of the country have for weeks seen their hospitals overwhelmed by infected patients looking for help. However, the Chinese government did slow to release data on the number of deaths and infections.

The US decision to lift the restrictions comes at a time when US-China relations are strained. Biden ordered a Chinese spy balloon shot down last month after it crossed the continental United States. The Biden administration also announced U.S. intelligence findings that raised concerns that Beijing was weighing arming Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned that Beijing and Washington were headed for “conflict and confrontation” if the US did not change.

Qin’s comments came a day after Xi in an unusually pointed speech said “Western countries led by the United States are implementing all containment, containment and suppression of China.”

White House officials have sought to tone down the heated rhetoric from Beijing.

“There is no change in the posture of the United States when it comes to this bilateral relationship,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “The president believes that tensions clearly need to be recognized, but can be resolved.”

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