The U.S. will require travelers coming from China to show a negative COVID-19 test before flying, a new policy announced Wednesday that federal health officials said will take effect on Jan. 5.
The travel restriction comes as China loosened its quarantine and other pandemic-era rules, leading to an explosion in the number of cases and questions about the Chinese government’s transparency in tracking cases.
A negative test, which can be administered via a PCR or an antigen self-test no more than two days before flying, must be provided by those boarding flights bound directly for the U.S. and those who may have brief layover stops in other countries before arriving in the U.S.
U.S. officials have expressed concern over the surge in cases in China and its “lack of transparent data” as the country lifts restrictions.
“We know these measures will not eliminate all risk or completely prevent people who are infected from entering the United States,” a federal health official told reporters. “Taken together, they will help limit the number of infected people and provide us an early warning about new variants.”
Other countries, including Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan are also tightening restrictions on travelers from China.