The Biden administration is weighing the potential of imposing new necessities on arriving vacationers from China, officers say, citing “mounting issues” concerning the nation’s ongoing COVID-19 surge and “the shortage of clear knowledge” from Chinese language officers.
The transfer comes because the Chinese language authorities has begun to ease journey restrictions that have been imposed years in the past early throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of a renewed wave of instances because it relaxed its “zero COVID” coverage.
Beginning this weekend, Japan says it plans to start requiring a unfavorable COVID-19 check for guests from China. Malaysia has additionally “introduced new monitoring and surveillance measures,” U.S. officers stated.
“The U.S. is following the science and recommendation of public well being consultants, consulting with companions, and contemplating taking comparable steps we are able to take to guard the American folks,” the officers stated in an announcement.
Bloomberg first reported that U.S. officers have been weighing new restrictions.
Federal well being authorities haven’t required unfavorable COVID-19 checks from any worldwide guests for the reason that requirement was scrapped in June. The U.S. continues to require that overseas vacationers show they’re totally vaccinated with the first sequence of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention does conduct voluntary checks collected at a handful of main airports to attempt to monitor for COVID variants amongst arriving worldwide vacationers.
Spokespeople for the CDC and Division of Well being and Human Companies declined to touch upon the potential of new measures.
In response to Japan’s resolution to impose the brand new restrictions, a Chinese language overseas ministry spokesperson known as Tuesday for a “science-based response method and joint effort” for secure journey.
“We have at all times believed that for all international locations, COVID response measures have to be science-based and proportionate with out affecting regular people-to-people change,” China’s Wang Wenbin advised reporters.
Concern over COVID variants
Scientists have voiced frustration over sparse variant sequencing launched from China amid the nation’s present wave of infections, apart from a handful of vacationers.
Of their assertion, Biden officers echoed these issues over the shortage of “viral genomic sequence knowledge” from China, saying they’re in talks with different international locations over steps to “determine any potential variants of concern.”
“With out this knowledge, it’s changing into more and more tough for public well being officers to make sure that they’ll be capable of determine any potential new variants and take immediate measures to cut back the unfold,” they stated.
All the present variants circulating in China are descendants of Omicron, Chinese language state media have reported, quoting their nation’s well being officers, with BA.5.2 and BF.7 dominating infections within the nation.
First noticed earlier this yr, these two strains have made up a fraction of circulating virus within the U.S. to this point. As a substitute, the CDC’s estimates rank the BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and XBB strains as far outpacing them across the nation.
Infections linked to XBB has surged throughout the Northeast in current weeks, climbing to greater than half of recent infections throughout the area. Forward of Christmas, federal knowledge exhibits hospitalizations reaching among the highest charges since final February.
Scientists suspect a descendant dubbed XBB.1.5 is behind the renewed surge, with mutations that would provide a progress charge “head and shoulders” above all different strains.
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