U.S. health officials are telling Americans to “reconsider travel” to Chinese territory due to the soaring infections in the country.
In a travel alert released on Dec. 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flagged China’s mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao as regions where U.S. travelers need to “practice enhanced precaution.”
Since the regime dropped the years-long zero-COVID policy in December, China has seen a rapid spread of the virus. A recent internal memo estimated an infection of nearly 250 million in the first 20 days of the month, the equivalent of about three-quarters of the U.S. population.
Reports of rising severe cases, overwhelmed systems, limited access to health care, along with the risk of new variants emerging are all points of concern for Americans planning a China visit, the agency said. It now recommends travelers to China prepare a travel health kit with items such as fever-reducing medicines and don a mask while indoors in public there.
The CDC the same day also imposed mandatory COVID testing on all passengers flying from China. Beginning Jan. 5, all air passengers over two years old, including those on a connecting flight through the United States, are to show airlines a negative test result within two days before their departure, or alternatively present proof of recovery from COVID-19 if they tested positive 10 days prior to the flight.
The action will take effect three days before China opens borders allowing nationals to travel abroad.
“CDC is announcing this step to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States during the surge in COVID-19 cases in the PRC given the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC,” the CDC said in a press release, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.
Those transiting Incheon International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport will also need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States if they have been to China in the last 10 days.
“These three transit hubs cover the overwhelming majority of passengers with travel originating in the PRC and the Special Administrative Regions. We will continue to monitor travel patterns, adjust our approach as needed, and keep Americans informed in a timely manner,” the CDC said.
Officials told reporters on Wednesday that they are holding off the measure until the next week to allow airlines to implement the program, as “it does take some effort by the airlines to update their data systems to put this all in place.”
Aside from the United States, countries that have imposed stricter travel rules for travelers from China action include Italy, Japan, India, South Korea, and Malaysia.