Starting Friday (March 10), The United States will relax Covid testing rules for travellers from China, the news agency AP reported on Wednesday (March 8) citing sources. The sources said the administration decided to roll back the testing requirements as infections, hospitalisations and deaths are declining in China and Washington gathered better information about the virus surge.
The restrictions were put in place on December 28 last year and took effect on January 5 this year due to the spike in Covid infections in China after it suddenly eased pandemic curbs. Earlier, US health officials had expressed concerns that Beijing was not truthful to the world about the true number of infections and deaths.
The restrictions imposed in January require travellers to the US from China, Macau and Hong Kong to take a Covid test no more than two days before travel and provide a negative test before boarding their flight. The testing applies to anyone aged two and older, including American citizens. The testing also applies to people travelling from China via a third country and to people connecting through the US as they go on to other destinations.
Any person testing positive for the virus more than 10 days before the flight can provide documentation showing they have recovered instead of a negative test result. The AP report also said that it had been left to the airlines to confirm negative tests and documentation of recovery before passengers board.
In early December last year, China eased back from the zero Covid policy which led to a spike in infections and deaths. For weeks, several regions of the country saw their hospitals overburdened by infected patients, a shortage of antiviral medicines and crematoriums being full.
The worsening health crisis in China led to many countries including Japan, Italy, Canada etc to impose restrictions on Chinese travellers.
Last month, Japan announced that it would ease its Covid restrictions on travellers from China from March 1.
Addressing a press conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that instead of blanket testing of travellers from mainland China, the government will only test selected samples, although travellers will still need to show a negative test before boarding their flights to Japan, the news agency Reuters reported.