Health Professional collects a COVID-19 swab test from a patient suspected of having COVID-19 at the Health Care Center specialised in Flu and COVID-19 at the Complexo do Alemao Olympic Village, located in Complexo do Alemao favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 10, 2021. (Photo by MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Annyatama Bhowmik
UPDATED 5:52 PM PT – Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Biden administration has announced that the United States will require all visitors flying from China to present negative COVID-19 test results in order to travel into the country.

The action was taken after the Chinese government stopped its rigorous COVID-zero policy on December 7th. Relaxation of COVID-19 regulations followed mass protests about the government not disclosing infection statistics.

Beginning on January 5th, anyone over the age of two, will need to test negative in order to enter the U.S. from South Korea’s Incheon International Airport or Canada’s Toronto Pearson International Airport, if they have spent more than 10 days in China. Everyone must comply to this rule regardless of their nationality or vaccination status. It is also applicable to travelers that are connecting through other countries to the U.S. or international connections in the U.S.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that they will extend its traveler-based Genomic Surveillance program to Los Angeles and Seattle airports. This raised the total number of participating airports to seven, with an estimated 500 flights per week from at least 30 different countries. This will affect roughly 290 flights per week coming from China.

Michael Osterholm, the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, reacted on the topic.

“We’ve never been able to demonstrate that border closings or screening as such have made any material difference in the risk of the disease in another country,” he said.

Federal health authorities have not demanded any foreign visitors to submit negative COVID-19 results since the mandate was removed in June.

On Wednesday, a federal health official provided a reasoning for the reinstatement of the policy.

“Predeparture testing and the requirement to show a negative test result decreases the number of infected passengers boarding airplanes and it will help to slow the spread of the virus as we work through identifying and understand any potential new variants that may emerge. We know these measures will not eliminate all risk or completely prevent people who are infected from entering the United States, but taken together they will help limit the number of infected people and provide us an early warning about new variants,” the official said.

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