Travelers from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, must present negative Covid-19 tests before entering the U.S. starting Jan. 5, a move that the Biden administration says is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The requirement comes amid growing concern over a surge of cases in China and the country’s lack of transparency about the outbreak there.
Health officials said the requirement for testing will apply to air passengers regardless of their nationality and vaccination status, as well as to those coming from China who enter the U.S. through a third country, and to those who connect through the U.S. to other destinations. Italy and Japan have already imposed similar restrictions.
Some experts questioned whether the testing requirement would do any good — especially given a surge in cases in northeastern states. In the U.S., an especially fast-spreading Omicron subvariant, XBB, appears to be spreading more quickly than ones related to the dominant variant in Beijing, BF.7, which is related to BA.5.
After three years of a “zero Covid” policy, China made an abrupt turnabout in early December, after mass protests over lockdowns threatened the ruling Communist Party. Since then, there has been an explosion of cases.
As cases rise in parts of the U.S., myths and misleading narratives continue and spread, exasperating overburdened doctors and evading content moderators.