The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced late Thursday that passengers from the United Kingdom that arrive in the United States must test negative for COVID-19 before departure.
Under this new requirement, passengers must have a negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of boarding their flight from the UK to the US. Documentation of their laboratory results, either as hard copy or electronic, is also required.
Airlines have to confirm the test results before the flight.
Besides, passengers will not be allowed to board if they refuse to test or do not provide mandatory documentation.
The order comes in response to the new coronavirus strain that has allegedly originated in the UK and is said to be 70% more transmissible.
More than 40 countries have restricted travel from the UK since authorities reported the new variant. Moreover, travel from other countries that have documented cases with the variant has been restricted in some cases.
The CDC said in a statement: “On March 14, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation to suspend the entry of foreign nationals who visited the United Kingdom in the past 14 days”.
“This has reduced air travel to the U.S. from the U.K. by about 90%. This additional testing requirement will fortify our protection of the American public to improve their health and safety and ensure responsible international travel,” the agency added.
It also said that the order would be signed Friday and go into effect on Monday.
Although Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are reported to be 95% effective against COVID-19, genetics experts have expressed preliminary concerns that they might have less efficacy against the new strain. Vaccines of both pharmaceutical companies are undergoing tests to see if they work against the new variant.
The CDC said Tuesday that the UK coronavirus variant has not been identified in the US through their genetic sequencing efforts.
However, it may be because the US surveillance system isn’t catching it. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir said on Monday: “It could be in the United States, and we might not have yet detected it”.