The United States will require all travelers from China to present a negative Covid-19 test result before traveling to the country, as Beijing’s rapid easing of Covid-19 restrictions leads to an increase in cases.
Passengers traveling to the United States from China will be required to take a test no more than two days before the flight, federal health officials said, and present proof of the negative test to their airline before boarding.
The tests can be either a PCR test or an antigen self-test administered through a telehealth service.
The requirement will apply to both passengers traveling directly to the United States from China as well as passengers traveling via popular third-country gateways, including Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver.
Passengers who test positive more than 10 days before their flight can provide documentation of their recovery in lieu of a negative test result.
The new rules go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on January 5.
U.S. officials have expressed deep concerns about China’s lack of transparency over the latest surge in cases, particularly the lack of genome sequencing information that could help detect new strains of coronavirus.
“We know that these measures will not eliminate all risk or completely prevent infected people from entering the United States,” a federal health official said. Still, “taken together, they will help limit the number of people infected 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 concerns about a rise in cases.
Japan requires people traveling from China to be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival from December 30. Indian authorities have said travelers from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test on arrival. in India and quarantined if they test positive.
China began easing its tough Covid-19 measures after dismantling the country’s longstanding zero-Covid policy earlier this month. On Monday, China announced it would end quarantine requirements for international arrivals from January 8, marking a major step towards reopening its borders.
But the sudden end to China’s strict health policy caught many in the country off guard and strained the health system as it grapples with rising infections.
China’s Foreign Ministry responded on Wednesday to reports that the United States was considering imposing restrictions on travelers from China, urging parties to work together to ensure the safe movement of people between countries and stability. of the global supply chain.
“We need all parties to work together scientifically against the epidemic to ensure the safe movement of people between countries, maintain the stability of the global industrial chain supply chain, and promote the resumption of healthy growth. of the global economy,” the Chinese foreign ministry said. spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a briefing.
This story has been updated with additional developments.