U.S. imposing mandatory COVID tests on travelers from China

STORY: U.S. health officials on Wednesday announced new, mandatory COVID-19 tests on travelers arriving from China.

The measure follows similar requirements imposed by India, Italy, Japan and Taiwan after Beijing lifted its stringent zero-COVID policies, and as cases of the illness spike across China.

Officials said that beginning Jan 5th, all air passengers 2 years old and older will require a negative result from a test no more than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong or Macao.

Federal officials added that passengers who test positive more than 10 days before a flight can provide documentation of recovery in lieu of the negative test result.

In an abrupt change of policy, China this month began dismantling the world's strictest COVID regime - including lockdowns and extensive testing - a relaxing of rules that put its battered economy on course for a complete re-opening next year.

The lifting of restrictions, which followed widespread anti-lockdown protests, means COVID is now spreading largely unchecked and likely infecting millions of people a day, according to some international health experts.

China has struggled to vaccinate its elderly population and has yet to authorize foreign mRNA vaccines.

The country currently has nine domestically-developed COVID vaccines approved for use, but none has been updated to target the highly infectious Omicron variant.