Covid testing for Chinese travelers to the US may be eased by Friday.

The US is set to relax Covid-19 testing restrictions for travelers from China, with changes expected as soon as Friday, according to a source familiar with the situation. The move comes as Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to decline, and more data becomes available regarding the variants circulating in China. However, back in December, federal health officials had announced that, starting January 5, all travelers from China would need to show a negative Covid test result before flying to the US, after Beijing’s rapid easing of Covid restrictions led to a surge in cases. This order was put in place to protect US citizens following “a large wave of infections in the PRC”, coupled with “a lack of transparency” from Chinese officials surrounding the surge. The Biden administration, while relaxing travel restrictions, still plans to monitor cases in China and around the world, keeping in place a Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance (TGS) program that surveys travelers on details regarding new variants. The US had expressed concern about the risk of a new variant emerging in China when the testing requirement was first introduced in January. Tuesday’s announcement also comes after a US Department of Energy assessment concluded that the virus likely emerged from a laboratory accident in China, leading to further strain on US-China relations. China, however, has vehemently denied any involvement in such an accident.

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