As Thailand prepares to welcome an infected tide of Chinese tourists, in the US, the Biden administration is changing its policy for arrivals from China, including Hong Kong, and Macau.
Washington is scared. Coronavirus infections running rampant in Beijing could spawn new and more dangerous variants.
From January 5, all travellers from China, including Hong Kong, and Macau, must present a negative Covid-19 test before entering the US. Tests must be taken “no more than two days before departure,” a health official said. Travellers who test positive more than 10 days before a flight can provide documentation of recovery in place of a negative test result.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is intensely concerned by China’s lack of transparency and failure to track and sequence variants and subvariants circulating there. China has faced plenty of international criticism over alleged inconsistencies in its official Covid data reporting. The lack of genomic data from China makes it difficult to ensure that the US will be able to identify new variants and take measures.
On Monday, Beijing said it would scrap mandatory Covid quarantine for overseas arrivals from January 8, prompting many in China to rush to plan trips abroad.
The United Kingdom is considering measures, including testing arrivals. India has mandated negative Covid tests and random screening at airports for passengers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Italy, Japan, Malaysia, and Taiwan have already imposed restrictions on the infected tide of Chinese tourists. In Thailand, the Pheu Thai party wants restrictions on Chinese tourists.
The US CDC said the requirement for testing will apply to all passengers arriving from China regardless of their nationality and vaccination status. It will also apply to those who enter the US through a third country, or who connect through the US to other destinations.
But just as former President Donald Trump imposed travel limits, many experts think it is a waste of time and won’t do any good, especially given the surge in cases in parts of the US. In the northeast, the virus is spreading more quickly than in Beijing.