The US has made it mandatory for travellers from China to show a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding a flight to the country in the wake of an ongoing resurgence of the virus in the Asian nation.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Health that from 12.01 a.m. on January 5, 2023, all passengers travelling from China, Hong Kong and Macau would need a negative Covid test to enter the country in order to "slow the spread" of the virus, reports the BBC.
The tests can be either an RT-PCR or an antigen self-test administered through a telehealth service.
It said that the travellers would need to take a Covid test no more than two days before departure.
Those who test positive more than 10 days before the flight could provide documentation of recovery from Covid instead of a negative test result, the statement noted.
The measures applied to people flying via a third country and to passengers taking connecting flights through the US to other destinations, the Department said, adding that it would "continue to monitor the situation" and adjust its approach "as necessary".
The statement also accused China of failing to provide "adequate and transparent" Covid data, which it said was "critical" for monitoring infection surges "effectively" as well as decreasing the chances of new variants emerging.
US health officials have said that the January 5 timeline was selected to provide airlines with ample time to adjust operations to implement the new rules, CNN reported.
Additionally, officials announced that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding the Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance program to airports in Seattle and Los Angeles, bringing the total number of airports participating to seven with approximately 500 weekly flights from at least 30 countries covered.
This will include approximately 290 weekly flights from China and surrounding areas.
Wednesday's development comes as India, Japan, Italy, Malaysia and Taiwan have announced Covid-19 measures for travellers from China amid concerns over the increase in cases.
Japan is requiring individuals travelling from China be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival starting December 30, while Indian authorities have said travellers from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand will have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test on arrival and quarantine if they test positive.
Italy said it was bringing in mandatory Covid testing for all passengers coming from China.
Taiwan has said that people arriving on flights from China, as well as by boat at two islands, will have to take Covid tests on arrival from January 1-31, 2023.
Those who test positive will be able to isolate at home, Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said
Malaysia has also put additional tracking and surveillance measures in place.
On Monday and Tuesday, China announced it would ease its restrictions on travel to and from the country for the first time after almost three years of restrictions, the BBC reported.
From January 8, 2023, quarantine for travellers entering China will end, and passport applications for Chinese citizens will resume.
Meanwhile, the actual toll of daily cases and deaths in China is unknown because officials have stopped releasing the data.
Media reports have said that hospitals are overwhelmed and elderly people are dying.