As a response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and concerns about the lack of transparent reporting from China, the Biden administration has announced new measures for travelers arriving from the country, according to CNN.
Starting January 5th, all air passengers over the age of two who are departing from China, Hong Kong, or Macau will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within two days of their departure.
This requirement applies to all air passengers, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. It is currently unclear how long this policy will remain in effect.
Airlines will be responsible for confirming the COVID-19 test results or documentation of recovery from all passengers before they are allowed to board their flights. Passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 more than 10 days prior to their flight may provide documentation of their recovery as an alternative to a negative test result.
But it is not just the U.S. that is tightening controls to decrease the spread of disease. Several countries have implemented new travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid the virus’s surge in China, including Japan, India, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
In response to rising cases, these countries have announced stricter rules for travelers coming from China. For example, Japan will require a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travelers from China, with those testing positive being required to undergo a week of quarantine. Tokyo has also announced plans to limit the number of flights to China by airlines. Malaysia has implemented additional tracking and surveillance measures. The Philippines is also considering the implementation of COVID-19 tests for travelers.
The response comes as a new sub-variant of the coronavirus, known as BF.7, has been identified and is spreading rapidly around the world. This variation is the result of the virus’s ongoing evolution to become more resistant to the immune system. According to two studies, BF.7 is able to evade antibodies from previous infections or vaccinations more effectively than many other sub-variants. This new variation, referred to as the “Omicron spawn,” is growing quickly and may become dominant within a few weeks, according to researchers. The Omicron variation has already spread to multiple provinces in China.
The new travel restrictions implemented by various countries in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have made it more difficult for people to travel during the holidays. These measures, which include requirements for negative COVID-19 tests, quarantine periods, and limits on flights from affected regions, have disrupted traditional holiday travel plans and may lead people to resort to alternative methods of celebration that involve staying isolated at home. This is reminiscent of the isolation and social distancing measures that were put in place earlier in the pandemic to control the spread of the virus.