The U.S. and other nations are imposing travel restrictions from China to prevent further outbreaks.
- Multiple countries are responding following China’s announcement that it will end the Zero-COVID Policy and open national borders by announcing travel restrictions. Bordering countries like Japan and India were some of the first to make announcements.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced Wednesday that the U.S. would impose similar restrictions as of January 5 on all visitors coming from China, regardless of vaccination status.
- All air passengers traveling from China must provide a negative COVID-19 test dated two days before the flight or documentation of recovery from an infection ten days before boarding.
- The decision reflects China’s need to provide adequate data to the CDC, as well as rising case counts in the country. The CDC has stated it will change the policy as the situation unfolds.
- Italy discovered two planes that landed from China in Milan had 50% of passengers infected.
- France and England have not planned any testing protocols for travelers from China.
Why it’s Important
As we previously reported, China will be opening the country again as of January 8 after years of strict COVID lockdowns. After more than two years of lockdowns in the U.S. and subsequent waves of COVID-19 infections, experts are weary of the possibility of new waves of infection. The U.S. hasn’t faced a sizable wave of infections since the Omicron wave in March 2022.
“Pre-departure testing and the requirement to show a negative test result has been shown to decrease the number of infected passengers boarding airplanes, and it will help to slow the spread of the virus as we work to identify and understand any potential new variants that may emerge,” says the CDC.
Italian health authorities are similarly weary of subsequent COVID waves, following the country being one of the most affected countries in the early waves of 2020. Health officials are sequencing the samples retrieved from Chinese passengers to detect new potential strains. New travel restrictions may be imposed if a strain is detected, Bloomberg reports.
As the AP notes, the CDC’s announcement may be a more political decision, attempting to pressure China to reveal more details of its internal outbreaks. January 22 is the Lunar New Year and one of China’s most important holidays and traveling seasons. The announcement dropping weeks before a significant holiday could signify the CDC’s goal. Imposed travel restrictions with the U.S., Japan, India, Italy, and other countries may interfere with holiday plans.
China has already faced months of weakening economic stats and political unrest as it attempted to implement the Zero COVID Policy, facing violent riots and protests.