The U.S. introduced new COVID-19 testing necessities Wednesday for all vacationers from China, becoming a member of different nations imposing restrictions due to a surge of infections.
The rise in instances throughout China follows the rollback of the nation’s strict anti-virus controls. China’s “zero COVID” insurance policies had stored the nation’s an infection price low however fueled public frustration and crushed financial progress.
The brand new U.S. necessities, which begin Jan. 5, apply to vacationers no matter their nationality and vaccination standing.
In a statement explaining the testing, the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention cited the surge in infections and what it mentioned was an absence of sufficient and clear data from China, together with genomic sequencing on the viral strains circulating within the nation.
“These knowledge are important to observe the case surge successfully and reduce the prospect for entry of a novel variant of concern,” the CDC mentioned.
Some scientists are nervous the COVID-19 surge in China could unleash a new coronavirus variant on the world that will or might not be much like those circulating now. That’s as a result of each an infection is one other likelihood for the virus to mutate.
“What we need to keep away from is having a variant enter into the U.S. and unfold like we noticed with delta or omicron,” mentioned Matthew Binnicker, director of scientific virology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
However the CDC’s motion could also be much less about stopping a brand new variant from crossing U.S. borders and extra about growing strain on China to share extra data, mentioned Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious illness epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Faculty of Public Well being, including he hopes the restrictions “aren’t stored in place longer than they must be.”
“I don’t suppose it’s going to have a serious affect in slowing the unfold of COVID-19,” Dowdy mentioned. “We now have a complete lot of transmission of COVID-19 right here inside our borders already.”
Dr. Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious illness skilled at Johns Hopkins College, agreed China is not sharing sufficient genomic sequencing data. However he additionally mentioned the U.S. has change into somewhat complacent about sequencing and must redouble its personal efforts. The CDC additionally introduced the enlargement of an early warning program that checks volunteers at choose airports for brand spanking new and uncommon variants of the coronavirus. That program will broaden to airports in Seattle and Los Angeles.
Underneath the brand new U.S. guidelines, vacationers to the U.S. from China, Hong Kong and Macau, will likely be required to take a COVID-19 take a look at not more than two days earlier than journey and supply a destructive take a look at earlier than boarding their flight. The testing applies to anybody 2 years and older, together with U.S. residents.
It’s going to apply to folks touring from China through a 3rd nation and to folks connecting by way of the U.S. as they go on to different locations. Anybody testing constructive greater than 10 days earlier than the flight can present documentation exhibiting they’ve recovered from COVID-19 as an alternative of a destructive take a look at outcome.
It will likely be as much as the airways to substantiate destructive checks and documentation of restoration earlier than passengers board.
Different nations have taken comparable steps in an effort to maintain infections from spreading past China’s borders. Japan would require a destructive COVID-19 take a look at upon arrival for vacationers from China, and Malaysia introduced new monitoring and surveillance measures. India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan are requiring virus checks for guests from China.
Lunar New 12 months, which begins Jan. 22, is often China’s busiest journey season, and China introduced Tuesday it is going to resume issuing passports for tourism for the primary time because the begin of the pandemic in 2020.
“We stay up for welcoming Chinese language vacationers again to the USA,” U.S. Journey Affiliation President and CEO Geoff Freeman mentioned in a press release. He referred to as the U.S. method to testing inbound vacationers “cheap and appreciated.”
The U.S. motion is a return to testing necessities for some worldwide vacationers. The Biden administration lifted the last of such mandates in June. At the moment, the CDC continued to suggest that folks boarding flights to the U.S. get examined near departure time and never journey if they’re sick.
“We’ve performed this earlier than. We will do it once more,” Dowdy mentioned.
Early within the pandemic, the U.S. barred entry to foreigners traveling from China, weeks after the virus first emerged there three years in the past, and dozens of different nations had been added to the listing. The nation began lifting journey bans late final yr, however required vacationers to the U.S. to be vaccinated and examined. ___
AP Science Author Laura Ungar contributed.
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