Those entering the United States by air from China will soon be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday.
The announcement comes as China relaxes its zero-COVID policy, allowing its citizens the opportunity to travel despite a rising number of cases.
U.S. officials said that the step is necessary as they claim the Chinese government has not been transparent about sequencing of the virus. The CDC expressed concern that potential new variants could emerge from China, which could set back the world’s progress in fighting the virus.
“Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world. However, reduced testing and case reporting in the PRC and minimal sharing of viral genomic sequence data could delay the identification of new variants of concern if they arise. 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,” the CDC said on Wednesday.
The policy will go into effect on Jan. 5. Tests are required regardless of vaccination status or nationality. The policy will also require those who have been to China in the previous 10 days but enter the U.S. from another county to submit a test.
The test must be taken within two days before departing for the U.S.
The CDC has additional guidelines on its website.