Travelers to the US from China, Hong Kong and Macau will soon be required to show a negative test for COVID-19 before boarding their flights to the states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. The requirement, which kicks in as of Jan. 5, is meant to help prevent a new variant of the coronavirus from making its way into the US as China experiences a surge in COVID cases.
“Pre-departure testing and the requirement to show a negative test result has been shown to decrease the number of infected passengers boarding airplanes, and it will help to slow the spread of the virus as we work to identify and understand any potential new variants that may emerge,” the CDC said in a release.
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 5, passengers 2 years old and up will need to get a test no more than two days before departure. The rule applies to passengers regardless of nationality and vaccination status. Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before their flight can show proof of recovery from COVID instead of a negative test result.
The restriction applies to direct flights to the US. It also applies to passengers flying to the US from Incheon International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport, if they’ve been in the People’s Republic of China in the last 10 days no more than 2 days prior to their departure to the states.
“These three transit hubs cover the overwhelming majority of passengers with travel originating in the PRC and the Special Administrative Regions,” the CDC said, referring to Hong Kong and Macau.
In early December, China eased its “zero COVID” restrictions in response to mass street protests in the country. Since then, a surge of cases in China has been accompanied by reports of hospital hallways packed with sick patients, outnumbered medical staff working while ill, and a lack of transparency about the outbreak.
“Reduced testing and case reporting in the PRC and minimal sharing of viral genomic sequence data could delay the identification of new variants of concern if they arise,” the CDC said in its release.
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