US expected to ease Covid testing for arrivals from China | Coronavirus

The US is preparing to relax Covid-19 testing restrictions for travellers from China as soon as Friday, according to two people familiar with the decision.

The people, who were not authorised to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration had decided to roll back the testing requirements as cases, hospitalisations and deaths were declining in China and the US had gathered better information about the surge. The Washington Post was first to report on Tuesday about the easing of requirements.

The restrictions were put in place on 28 December and took effect on 5 January amid a surge in infections in China when it suddenly eased pandemic restrictions. US health officials expressed concern their Chinese counterparts were not being truthful about the number of infections and deaths.

At the time, US officials also said there was a lack of transparency from the Chinese government about the size of the surge or the variants circulating.

As part of its response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded genomic surveillance at several US airports, collecting voluntary samples from passengers on hundreds of weekly flights from China, and testing wastewater from planes. The Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance Program will continue to monitor travellers from China and more than 30 other countries.

The rules imposed in January have required people travelling directly or through another country to the US from China, Hong Kong and Macau to take a Covid-19 test no more than two days before travel and provide a negative test before boarding their flight. They could also show documentation of having caught and recovered from Covid.

China saw infections and deaths surge after it eased back from its zero-Covid strategy in early December. There were rare public protests against a policy that confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign.

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