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Advocates fear new COVID testing requirements for Chinese travelers will stoke anti-Asian hate

Covid testing requirements anti-Asian hate
via Gerd Altmann

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    Asian community advocates have expressed concern about the renewed COVID-19 testing requirement in the U.S. for travelers arriving from China. 

    The requirement, which went into effect on Thursday, states that all passengers two years old and above from China, Hong Kong and Macao must provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding their flights. Passengers must ensure that they were tested no more than two days before their trip.

    Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Italy have announced similar testing requirements for passengers originating from China. U.S. health officials cited China’s most recent surge in cases and the country’s lack of transparency regarding its skyrocketing COVID rates.

    “We know these measures will not eliminate all risk or completely prevent people who are infected from entering the United States,” a federal health official was quoted by CNN as saying. However, “taken together they will help limit the number of infected people and provide us an early warning about new variants.”

    Advocates noted that singling out a specific group of travelers could potentially start a new wave of anti-Asian hate incidents.

    Many of them warn that indiscriminate rhetoric used by officials and public figures could give rise to more anti-Asian discrimination. This type of rhetoric has contributed to anti-Asian sentiment since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Manjusha Kulkarni.

    “Since we started receiving incident reports in March 2020, we have more than 11,000 reports from individuals across the country who have experienced anti-Asian hate,” Kulkarni told USA Today, citing terms such as “kung flu” which were used by former President Donald Trump and others at the time. 

    Kulkarni, who is also executive director of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) coalition AAPI Equity Alliance, claimed that “there are many sources of information that drive animosity, but combined, it has the effect of legitimizing the scapegoating of Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans.”

    While Kulkarni acknowledges the surge of infection rates in several countries around the world, she believes there are alternatives to singling out a specific geographic region.

    “If we are truly worried about these variants and their spread through travel, then we should consider looking at new masking policies and requiring negative tests for all travelers, no matter where they come from,” she suggested.

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