The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a new COVID-19 testing policy for air travelers coming from China, just as the communist government is rolling back its strict COVID policies.
The new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) order affects any travelers coming from China, either directly or indirectly, as well as Hong Kong and Macau and requires them to obtain a negative COVID-19 test no more than two days before traveling to the U.S. The policy will go into effect on Jan. 5 in order to give airlines time to put the policy in place and will affect all travelers 2-years-old and older.
The CDC said it was announcing the step to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. due to a surge in China and ‘given the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported’
Federal health officials, in a call with reporters, said the policy came as China is rolling back its ‘zero COVID’ policies and there is already significant increase in cases – as well as a lack of adequate and transparent sequencing data. Officials suspect there will be a lot of transmission very quickly due to a lack of immunity among people living in China.
Officials said that the U.S. would also be expanding the Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance program (TGS), which collects anonymous nasal swabs from international travelers at select airports in order to help identify any new variants. It will be expanded to airports in Seattle and Los Angeles.
The move is the latest international response to a sharp change in strategy from the Chinese communist regime – which implemented some of the most authoritarian COVID-19 policies in an effort to stamp out the virus which originated in China. The policies come as China battles an economic slump and ahead of the Lunar New Year, which begins on Jan. 22. and is typically China’s busiest travel season.
Japan, India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan have so far responded by requiring virus tests for visitors from China. The Chinese government has stopped reporting nationwide case numbers, but Chinese officials have reportedly estimated that some 250 million people in the country have caught COVID-19 in the past three weeks.
China has also moved to narrow the definition of what qualifies as a COVID-related death, which will reduce the public death tally. Officials reported only eight such deaths since Dec. 1.
Fox News’ Peter Aitkin, Patrick Hauf and The Associated Press contributed to this report.