The Biden administration is reportedly considering imposing restrictions on travelers entering the United States from China due to the country’s rapid and seemingly uncontrolled shift from the ‘Zero Covid’ policy that had kept the virus largely at bay for the last three years.
The White House and US health officials are said to be worried about Beijing’s lack of transparency about the spread of the virus through the Chinese population, with testing systems breaking down and officials no longer publishing trustworthy infection data.
Authorities in Japan, India and Malaysia have already imposed their own restrictions on travelers from China, citing the reported explosion in infections in China since most pandemic rules were suddenly lifted in the last few weeks.
U.S. border rules could mimic those imposed by the likes of Japan or India, with mandatory testing for travelers entering the country from China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also weigh up the benefit of restricting the number of entry points into the U.S. for Chinese travelers.
This would be similar to the policy adopted by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, when travelers were funnelled through several approved entry points to be screened by CDC staff. A similar policy was recently adopted for travelers from Uganda due to a rare Ebola outbreak.
According to the AFP news agency, US officials have cited concerns raised by the World Health Organization over China’s u-turn on Covid containment. Officials are worried about a lack of testing and accurate reporting, as well as the virus spreading in an under-vaccinated elderly population.
China is expected to lift even more pandemic restrictions from January 8, when border controls are due to be largely abandoned. Travelers will be free to enter China without quarantine, but analysts don’t expect a rush of Chinese tourists to immediately leave the country after three years of isolation.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.