U.S. will require airline passengers traveling from China to test negative for Covid

Travelers check in at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport in on Dec. 12, 2022, after China relaxed domestic travel restrictions.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Biden administration will require airline passengers traveling from China to test negative for Covid before entering the U.S. as concern grows that widespread transmission of the virus in the world’s most populous country could result in new variants, federal health officials said on Wednesday.

All travelers two years of age and older originating from China, Hong Kong or Macau will be required to get tested for Covid two days before their departure to the U.S., the health officials said. The requirements, which apply regardless of nationality and vaccination status, start Jan. 5.

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Airline passengers transiting through Incheon International Airport, Toronto Pearson, and Vancouver International Airport will also need to test negative for Covid before flying onward to the U.S. if they were in China 10 days beforehand, the officials said.

The testing requirements come as China battles a major outbreak of the virus after easing its stringent zero-Covid policy in the wake of social unrest earlier this year.

The U.S. has limited information on the health situation on the ground in China, the officials said. Testing has decreased across the country and it’s unclear what variants are circulating in China because genomic surveillance data is also limited, according to the officials.

“The recent rapid increase in transmission in China increases the potential for new variants emerging,” one of the officials said. The U.S. is taking proactive steps to protect the public’s health and be on the alert for new Covid variants as the situation in China unfolds, the official said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its program that monitors travelers for new Covid variants to include airports in Los Angeles and Seattle. The surveillance program will now include seven airports and cover about 500 weekly flights, including 290 flights from China and the surrounding area, the health officials said.

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