By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO, Dec 28 (Reuters) – The United States will impose mandatory COVID-19 tests on travelers from China, US health authorities announced on Wednesday, joining India, Italy, Japan and Taiwan in adopting of measures following Beijing’s decision to lift strict zero-COVID policies.
Officials told reporters that starting Jan. 5, all air passengers over the age of two must have a negative test performed no more than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong, or Macao.
Passengers who test positive more than 10 days before a flight can present recovery documentation in lieu of the negative result, federal officials said.
In an abrupt reversal of policy, China this month began dismantling the world’s strictest COVID regime of lockdowns and mass testing, putting its battered economy on track for a full reopening next year.
The lifting of the restrictions, following widespread protests against them, means that COVID is spreading largely unchecked and is likely to infect millions of people a day, according to some international health experts.
Beijing has faced international criticism that its official data on COVID and its death count are not consistent with the scale of the outbreak.
Some global health experts have claimed that the virus could infect up to a million people a day, and international modeling groups have predicted that China could experience 2 million deaths or more.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Washington; Editing in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)