US CDC to lift COVID testing requirements for travelers from China

Passengers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Wednesday it plans to end mandatory COVID-19 tests for travelers from China, joining other countries in eliminating the requirements.

Reuters and other outlets on Tuesday reported that the CDC plans to drop the testing requirements imposed in early January on Friday.

The CDC said on Wednesday that the "public health measure was put in place to protect U.S. citizens and communities as we worked to both identify the size of the (China COVID) surge and gain better insights into the variants that were circulating."

The CDC said it will continue to monitor cases in China and around the world.

Last week, Japan dropped a requirement that everyone take a test for the virus upon arrival from China.

The United States in early January joined other countries in taking new measures after Beijing's decision to lift its stringent zero-COVID policies. It required air passengers ages 2 years and older to get a negative COVID test result no more than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong or Macao.

"We were aware that there was a large wave of infections in (China) and there was a lack of transparency by the PRC, meaning we had little information about the size of the surge or the variants that were circulating within," the CDC said.

The agency said it will continue the genomic sequencing program at select airports that asks travelers to volunteer to help with early detection of new COVID variants.

The Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance Program will monitor flights from China and regional transportation hubs, as well as flights from more than 30 other countries, the CDC said.

(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Bill Berkrot)