US will require COVID-19 testing for travelers from China

Dec 27, 2022, 10:15 PM | Updated: Dec 28, 2022, 5:55 pm
FILE - Passengers wearing masks walk through the Capital airport terminal in Beijing on Dec. 13, 20...

FILE - Passengers wearing masks walk through the Capital airport terminal in Beijing on Dec. 13, 2022. On Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, the U.S. announced new COVID-19 testing requirements for all travelers from China, joining other nations imposing restrictions because of a surge of infections. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

The U.S. announced new COVID-19 testing requirements Wednesday for all travelers from China, joining other nations imposing restrictions because of a surge of infections.

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

The new U.S. requirements, which start Jan. 5, apply to travelers regardless of their nationality and vaccination status.

In a statement explaining the testing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited the surge in infections and what it said was a lack of adequate and transparent information from China, including genomic sequencing on the viral strains circulating in the country.

“These data are critical to monitor the case surge effectively and decrease the chance for entry of a novel variant of concern,” the CDC said.

Some scientists are worried the COVID-19 surge in China could unleash a new coronavirus variant on the world that may or may not be similar to the ones circulating now. That’s because every infection is another chance for the virus to mutate.

“What we want to avoid is having a variant enter into the U.S. and spread like we saw with delta or omicron,” said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

But the CDC’s action may be less about stopping a new variant from crossing U.S. borders and more about increasing pressure on China to share more information, said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, adding he hopes the restrictions “aren’t kept in place longer than they need to be.”

“I don’t think it’s going to have a major impact in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Dowdy said. “We have a whole lot of transmission of COVID-19 here within our borders already.”

Dr. Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, agreed China isn’t sharing enough genomic sequencing information. But he also said the U.S. has become a little complacent about sequencing and needs to redouble its own efforts. The CDC also announced the expansion of an early warning program that tests volunteers at select airports for new and rare variants of the coronavirus. That program will expand to airports in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Under the new U.S. rules, travelers to the U.S. from China, Hong Kong and Macau, 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, including U.S. citizens.

It will apply to people traveling from China via a third country and to people connecting through the U.S. as they go on to other destinations. Anyone testing positive more than 10 days before the flight can provide documentation showing they’ve recovered from COVID-19 instead of a negative test result.

It will be up to the airlines to confirm negative tests and documentation of recovery before passengers board.

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 travelers from China, and Malaysia announced new tracking and surveillance measures. India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan are requiring virus tests for visitors from China.

Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 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.

“We look forward to welcoming Chinese travelers back to the United States,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement. He called the U.S. approach to testing inbound travelers “reasonable and appreciated.”

The U.S. action is a return to testing requirements for some international travelers. 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.

“We’ve done this before. We can do it again,” Dowdy said.

Early in the pandemic, the U.S. barred entry to foreigners traveling from China, weeks after the virus first emerged there three years ago, and dozens of other countries were added to the list. The country started lifting travel bans late last year, but required travelers to the U.S. to be vaccinated and tested. ___

AP Science Writer Laura Ungar contributed.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Maximino Vertiz Quintanilla repairs a customer's baby Jesus statue inside his store in preparation ...
Associated Press

Broken baby Jesus statues flood restorers ahead of feast day

MEXICO CITY (AP) — It is Maximinio Vertiz’ busy season. Dozens of beloved but worn and broken baby Jesus figurines will pass through this 49-year-old craftsman’s hands, restoring them in time for their annual pilgrimage to church for a Candlemas blessing. Holding a putty knife with a steady hand, Vertiz went about this meticulous task […]
1 day ago
substation...
Associated Press

Puyallup man accused in substation vandalism is released from custody

A federal judge issued the order for Matthew Greenwood, 32, after renewed efforts by his attorney to get Greenwood into a drug-treatment facility.
1 day ago
FILE - A worker with the Pebble Mine project digs in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the vill...
Associated Press

Feds use rare veto to block Alaska copper, gold mine plan

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday effectively vetoed a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine in a remote region of southwest Alaska that is a trove of minerals coveted by mining interests but that also supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. The move by the agency, heralded by Alaska […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

American Express launches products for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — American Express is launching a suite of financial service products for small businesses as it aims build up its presence in the small business sector. The services, called Business Blueprint, stem from the credit card giant’s acquisition of fintech Kabbage in 2020. American Express had been offering small business lines of […]
1 day ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Associated Press

Democrats in Washington state choose Conrad as new leader

The Washington State Democratic Party has chosen Shasti Conrad, the former leader of King County Democrats, as its new chair.
1 day ago
Birds are seen resting on top of tons of waste floating on Lim river near Priboj, Serbia, Monday, J...
Associated Press

Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia do little to solve waste problem

PRIBOJ, Serbia (AP) — In southwest Serbia, construction machines are being repurposed to clear tons of waste clogging the Potpec lake. Year after year during the winter months, the lake near the southwest Serbian town of Priboj fills with tons of garbage such as plastic bottles, rusty barrels, dead animals and even furniture or home […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
US will require COVID-19 testing for travelers from China