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WASHINGTON: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is set to end on Friday (Mar 10) mandatory COVID-19 tests for travellers from China, joining other countries in dropping the requirements, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters.

Last week, Japan dropped a requirement that everyone take a test for the virus upon arrival from China. The source told Reuters the United States would continue to monitor cases in China and around the world. The US decision was reported earlier by the Washington Post.

The CDC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The United States in early January joined India, Canada, Italy, Japan and other countries in taking new measures after Beijing’s decision to lift stringent zero-COVID policies. It required new air passengers, two years and older to get a negative result from a test no more than two days before departure from China, Hong Kong or Macao.

China was battered with a surge in COVID-19 cases after it abruptly abandoned its zero-COVID policy in early December, unleashing the virus on its 1.4 billion population. In February, China’s top leaders declared a “major victory” over COVID-19, claiming the world’s lowest fatality rate, although experts have questioned that data.

The United States in December expanded its voluntary genomic sequencing program at airports, adding Seattle and Los Angeles.

The source told Reuters on Tuesday the CDC would keep that program, known as the Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance Program (TGS), which asks travellers to volunteer to help with early detection of new variants.