New requirements could require U.S. citizens traveling from overseas to test negative within three days of departure.
The United States government could expand coronavirus requirements for travelers beyond the United Kingdom as early as next week, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters news agency on Wednesday, as the government Canada announced that all passengers must have tested negative for COVID-19 within three days before arriving in the country.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other U.S. agencies held a lengthy call with U.S. airlines on Wednesday to discuss the expanded requirements, sources familiar with the call said.
The US government began on Monday requiring all airline passengers from the UK – including US citizens – to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure. A spokesperson for the US Department of Transportation confirmed the call with the airlines had taken place, Reuters reported.
The CDC said in a statement on Wednesday that “efforts are currently underway in the United States to assess the risk reduction associated with testing and other recommended preventative measures, to determine what a workable testing regime for air travel might look like. and obtain some level of agreement on standards for a harmonized approach to testing for international air travel. “
Officials said the White House could make a decision as early as next week on adding new countries to the testing requirements, but it is not clear when these new requirements will take effect.
The talks come after the discovery of a new strain of the coronavirus in the UK and believed to be more contagious. confirmed having infected a man near Denver, Colorado on Tuesday. This is the first known case of the new COVID variant in the United States. The man had no travel history, raising questions about how he became infected with the strain.
U.S. public health officials said on Tuesday that the coronavirus tests required by the United States for travelers from the United Kingdom should likely be extended to other countries as well.
“I think it should probably be extended to other countries,” US Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir told MSNBC.
The move was a turnaround after the Trump administration told U.S. airlines it did not plan to require testing for arriving British passengers.
United Airlines on Tuesday sent a note to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team calling for a White House task force to restore safe air travel and advocating “passenger screening as an alternative to travel restrictions “.
The memo, obtained by Reuters, said that by offering safe alternatives to travel restrictions, the White House task force would help restore US global leadership in public health while reestablishing critical ties. between economies, communities, businesses and families around the world. “
Biden has vowed to impose masks on all interstate travel, including flights.
The United States has seen more than 19 million confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 340,000 deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.
Separately, on Wednesday, the Canadian government said passengers were to be tested negative for COVID-19 within three days of arriving in the country.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the measure would be implemented in the coming days.
Canada already required those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days and has already banned all flights from the UK due to the new variant of COVID-19 spreading there.