China Relaxes COVID-19 Travel Limitations, Now CDC May Test Airplane Wastewater

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will investigate collecting samples of wastewater from overseas flights in order to track any developing new strains originating in China.

The CDC told Reuters that the wastewater testing program is one of several strategies being considered to curb the spread of new foreign varieties.

Once the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) stated on January 8 that border controls and international travel will be loosened, countries across the world began implementing testing criteria.

The CDC said on December 28 that travelers transiting into the US from China, Hong Kong, and Macau will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result.

A lack of openness regarding the veracity of Beijing’s medical data has created several issues over CDC testing practices.

Around The World

Other nations, including Italy and Japan, have also imposed similar restrictions on travel requiring negative COVID-19 testing for Chinese tourists.

On January 5, the United States will begin requiring passengers from China to submit to testing. Additionally, the CDC stated that it will “periodically reevaluate” and reestablish testing as necessary.

According to the CDC, passengers above the age of two must have a negative PCR or fast antigen test completed or monitored by a registered health practitioner within two days before departure.

If they came back positive at least 10 days before their trip, visitors will have to produce proof of recovery.


Due to the CCP’s decision to limit access to public health information and its reclassification of pandemic-related fatalities as those resulting from respiratory distress, it is difficult for outside observers to corroborate the increase in cases in China.

The head of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Carlos del Rio, reacted to the issue in a tweet.

This week, the CDC also extended its volunteer genetic sequencing program at airports, including Seattle and Los Angeles, as significant entry gateways from China.

This will increase the total number of U.S. airports collecting information from confirmed COVID-19 testing to seven; although other scientists argue this sample size is insufficient.

The CCP stated the majority of criticism of their viral data was unfounded and the risk of new varieties was minimal. Officials in Beijing assert future viral mutations will likely be more contagious but less severe over time.

The CDC is plagued by a lack of openness on the Beijing virus, according to CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund, who told Reuters the agency is investigating wastewater testing as a possible solution.

Reuters reported in July, researchers in California found distinct versions of the CCP virus in samples of San Diego municipal wastewater at least 14 days before the variations were detected on nose swabs.

In the same month, French scientists demonstrated mandating negative pre-boarding COVID-19 testing did not protect countries against the transmission of novel variations by analyzing effluent from airplanes.

The French scientists discovered the omicron form in wastewater on two flights from Ethiopia to France in December 2021, despite the fact every passenger was checked before to boarding with testing.

David Dowdy, a communicable diseases epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Affairs, told Reuters monitoring the genetic evolution of the virus and collecting wastewater might be useful, but testing takes time.

This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.