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COVID rules: U.S. changing China travel requirement


The Biden administration is set to ease restrictions on COVID-19 testing for travelers from China as soon as Friday, according to two people familiar with the decision.

The people, who were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the administration had decided to delay testing requirements as cases, hospitalizations and deaths were falling in China and the US had gathered better information on the increase.

The restrictions came into force on December 28 and will take effect on January 5, amid a surge in infections in China after the country dramatically eased pandemic restrictions and as US health officials expressed concern that their Chinese counterparts were being truthful. have not been to the world. the actual number of infections and deaths;

At the time, U.S. officials also said the restriction was necessary to protect U.S. citizens and communities because there was a lack of transparency from the Chinese government about the extent of the increase or the options being circulated inside China.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded genomic surveillance at several U.S. airports earlier this year, collecting voluntary samples from passengers on hundreds of weekly flights from China and testing aircraft sewage. The traveler-based Genomic Surveillance program will continue to monitor travelers from China and more than 30 other countries.

The rules, put in place in January, require travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau to the U.S. to be tested for COVID-19 no more than two days before travel and to test negative before boarding their flight. Testing applies to everyone 2 years of age and older, including US citizens.

It also applied to people traveling from China via a third country and people connecting through the US when they go to other destinations. Anyone who has tested positive more than 10 days prior to flight can provide documentation showing that they have recovered from COVID-19 in lieu of a negative test result.

It is left to airlines to confirm negative tests and recovery documents before passengers can board.

China has seen a surge in infections and deaths since it relaxed its “zero COVD” strategy in early December against a policy that confined millions to their homes and sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign over the policy.

But as China eased its strict rules, infections and deaths surged, and parts of the country saw their hospitals overwhelmed for weeks with infected patients seeking care. Still, the Chinese government has been slow to release data on the number of deaths and infections.

The US decision to lift restrictions comes at a time when US-China relations are straining. Biden ordered the downing of a Chinese spy balloon last month after it flew over the continental United States. The Biden administration has also released US intelligence findings that raise concerns that Beijing is weighing weapons for Russia in its ongoing war against Ukraine.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned that Beijing and Washington were headed for “conflict and confrontation” if the US did not change course.

Qin’s comments came a day after Xi said in an unusually pointed speech that “Western countries, led by the United States, have carried out comprehensive containment, encirclement and suppression of China.”

White House officials sought to play down Beijing’s heated rhetoric.

“There is no change in the position of the United States when it comes to this bilateral relationship,” Kirby said. “The president believes that these tensions should obviously be recognized, but can be overcome.

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