The Biden administration is planning new coronavirus precautions on travelers arriving from China due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and concerns about the lack of transparent reporting data from the country, federal health officials said Wednesday.
Beginning Jan. 5, all air passengers at least 2 years old originating from China will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test no more than two days before their departure from China, Hong Kong or Macau.
The requirement will apply to all air passengers, regardless of nationality and vaccination status, officials said. They did not say how long the policy will be in place.
Airlines must confirm the COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from all passengers before they board. Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before the flight can provide documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in lieu of a negative test result.
Passengers flying through Incheon International Airport in Seoul, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport on their way to the United States will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test no more than two days before their departure to the United States if they’ve been in China in the last two days, officials said.
The move aims to decrease the number of infected passengers boarding airplanes and could give public health authorities time to identify and understand any potential new variants that may emerge.
The new policy reflects the Biden administration’s concern over the situation in China, which is rapidly ending its strict “zero COVID” policy in the face of protests.
As a result, infections are running wild without an adequate health infrastructure or enough vaccinations in place.
But the Chinese government has virtually stopped reporting any outbreak data, and Biden administration health officials said they were concerned about potential new variants circulating without their knowledge. Officials said they do not know the true infection rate or number of deaths and hospitalizations in China.
Officials said the United States has offered the Chinese government vaccines as well as other support for COVID-19 but has been rebuffed.
This story was updated at 3:38 p.m.