US COVID testing requirement begins for air passengers from China

Passengers will now be required to show negative PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before departure
Posted at 5:35 PM, Jan 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-09 13:22:19-05

(WXYZ) — Beginning Thursday, airline passengers coming to the U.S. from China will need a negative COVID-19 test. It can be either a PCR or an antigen test but it must be taken within two days of departure.

Some say the testing is necessary to keep Americans safe. However, Chinese authorities say science doesn’t support the requirement.

Joann McCauley was flying out of Detroit Metro Airport Thursday. She said she does think people coming to the U.S. from China should be tested and knowing the requirement was now in place did provide an extra measure of certainty.

“Yes, it kind of makes me feel a little more protected,” said McCauley.

Jennifer Lasco, however, didn’t think testing or singling groups out makes sense anymore.

“Personally I think it’s inconvenient and I don’t want to do it. I know that’s not a popular opinion but I think it’s a bit much at this point,” Lasco said.

Dr. Paul Kilgore is an associate professor at Wayne State University in the department of Pharmacy Practice and co-director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. He worked in China for over a decade from 1998 to 2011, and he responded to the new testing requirement.

“I personally think we should be putting our effort in other areas. The testing or requirement of testing is something that we tried in the past. It really did not show great impact or great effect,” explained Kilgore.

He admitted, he doesn’t think countries would be imposing the testing requirements if China was more forthcoming with its data.

“I view public health as 80% politics, 20% science,” said Kilgore. “The part of public health that’s so important is that engagement, that communication, the sharing of information. If we can actually get back to that, we may not actually need the testing of passengers before they get on an airplane because right now, overall in the public health scheme of things, not likely to help an overall control of the disease in China or other countries.”

He said screening will find people who are positive, and it will also let through people who falsely test negative.

“Then when those test negative people get on the airplane not wearing a mask who actually do have an infection, the opportunity for spreading, bringing the virus here or to another country is there. It will happen regardless of the testing that happens up front or before people get on the airplane,” Kilgore explained.

Kilgore demonstrated specifically how China is just not reporting the same amount of genetic sequencing data as other countries.

“Since July, they’ve reported roughly about 1,000 strains,” explained Kilgore. “In the United States, we’ve had many factors, orders of magnitude higher in the number of strains that have been sequenced. What we want to do with China is boost up that genomic surveillance, get numbers in the 10s of thousands over the next several months. That would give them great confidence to know what’s going on in China. It would also help allay concerns of other countries,” said Kilgore.