(CTN News) – In response to Beijing’s move to loosen strict zero-COVID restrictions, the United States would require COVID-19 testing for visitors from China, according to U.S. health authorities, who joined India, Italy, Japan, and Taiwan in announcing additional measures on Wednesday.
According to the government, starting on January 5, all travelers age 2 and older would need to have a negative test result no later than two days before leaving China, Hong Kong, or Macao.
According to federal authorities, passengers who test positive more than 10 days before a trip may substitute evidence of recovery for the negative test result.
The lack of knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 virus variations and worries that a rise in COVID-19 cases in China would lead to the emergence of new viral variants were cited as the reasons for the policy shift.
Concern over COVID-19 variants
Additionally, the United States is expanding its airport-based volunteer genome sequencing program by including Seattle and Los Angeles. Now there are seven airports collecting data as a result of positive testing.
This month, China started dismantling the world’s tight COVID-19 program, which included lockdowns and thorough testing. This sudden shift in policy has left China’s shattered economy on track for a full reopening next year.
Some international health experts believe that because of the relaxation of limitations due to strong opposition to them, COVID-19 is now spreading essentially unfettered and potentially infecting millions of individuals daily.
Beijing has been under fire from governments worldwide for the official COVID statistics and death toll, which are out of proportion to the epidemic’s severity.
“In terms of what is being provided concerning the rising number of cases, hospitalizations, and particularly fatalities, we only have a very limited amount of information.
Additionally, testing has decreased across China, making it difficult to determine the actual infection rate, “During the briefing, a U.S. health official spoke.
U.S. officials are worried that there will be a lot of infections leading to hospitalizations and deaths in China due to the large number of people in China who have not been exposed to the virus, the introduction of Omicron variants, and the rollback of China’s zero-COVID-19 policies, the official said.
One million people every day might get the virus, according to some global health experts, and 2 million fatalities or more were anticipated for China by worldwide modeling firms.
As part of its ongoing criticism of Beijing’s response to the epidemic, U.S. authorities said earlier this week that “the lack of open data” from China was a factor in whether or not the US should impose its travel restrictions.
Throughout the epidemic, there has been a pronounced difference between the U.S. and Chinese strategies for combating COVID.
Early in the epidemic, high infection rates in the United States gave Beijing space to claim that their tight COVID-19 preventive approach had saved lives.
China has had difficulty immunizing its senior population and has not yet approved foreign mRNA vaccines.
According to statistics released by the Chinese government last week, the country’s overall vaccination rate is over 90%, but for individuals who have had booster injections, that number lowers to 57.9% and 42.3% for those who are 80 years of age or older.
Nine locally made COVID vaccinations are now used nationwide, but none have been modified to target the contagious Omicron variety.
Chinese authorities have said publicly that they do not need U.S. help, even though the United States has officially offered China mRNA vaccines and other supplies. One official responded, “We still stand by our promise.”
A 17-month-old requirement that travelers are entering the nation via air test negative for COVID-19 was repealed by the United States in June.
Most foreign nationals must still have a COVID-19 vaccination before entering the US.
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