The United States will require negative Covid tests from all air travelers from China, saying Beijing is not sharing enough information about the surge in coronavirus cases there, health officials announced Wednesday.
From January 5, all air passengers two years and older who originate from China must obtain a negative Covid-19 test less than two days before departure and provide it to their airlines, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
“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 People’s Republic of China given the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC,” it said in a statement.
Read more: Global alarm grows over China’s Covid surge
“The recent rapid increase in Covid-19 transmission in China increases the potential for new variants emerging,” a senior US health official told reporters in a phone briefing.
However, the official said, Beijing has provided only limited data about circulating variants in China to global databases, and testing and reporting on new cases has also diminished.
“Based on this lack of available data, it’s harder for US public health officials to identify new variants spreading to the United States,” the official said.
The new requirement will fall into place just after midnight US Eastern time on January 5, or 0500 GMT.
The test requirement applies to air passengers regardless of nationality and vaccination status, and includes people travelling to the United States from China via third countries, as well as those travelling through the United States to other countries.
US officials said they continue to offer assistance, including vaccines, to China to help it battle the recent coronavirus surge.
“The PRC has indicated publicly that they appreciate the offer but that they don’t need the support at this time. So we will continue to stand by our offer,” a second senior US health official told reporters on condition of anonymity.