According to a new federal policy that will take effect on January 26, all international travelers to the United States must first prove that their coronavirus tests are negative before boarding.
In a statement describing the new policy, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Testing does not eliminate all risks.”
“However, if combined with daily preventive measures such as staying at home for a period of time, wearing masks and staying away from social interactions, it can reduce the spread of aircraft, airports and destinations, making travel safer, healthy and responsible.”
Dr. Redfield is expected to sign the order on Tuesday, detailing the new rules.
The new policy requires all airline passengers, regardless of their vaccination status, to undergo a test for current infection within three days before the departure of their flight to the United States and provide written proof of their test results or proof of recovery from Covid-19
Jason McDonald, a spokesperson for CDC vaccinators, said that because only the vaccine can prevent serious diseases, the immunization certificate is not enough. Theoretically, the vaccine may still be infected and spread the virus in flight.
As long as the passenger does not have any symptoms, the travel agency will not need further examination within three months after the positive examination. In this case, the passenger may travel with a document of a positive test result and a letter from a health care provider or public health official indicating that the passenger is now approved for business travel.
The airline must confirm the negative test results of all passengers or restore the documents before boarding. The agency said that if the passenger does not provide evidence of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to participate in the test, the airline must refuse boarding.
An official of the agency said in a statement: “Testing before and after travel is essential to slow down the launch and spread of Covid-19.” “As the United States is already in a state of surge, testing requirements for aircraft passengers will help us Slow the spread of the virus when vaccinating the American public.”
The policy is expanded on the basis of similar rules implemented in late December, which require travelers from the UK to show evidence of negative results for the virus. The Trump administration introduced this restriction amid reports that more infectious variants of the coronavirus have become the source of most infections in many parts of the country.
Scientists say that this mutation has been found in several states in the United States and may spread more widely. However, the United States has only genetically sequenced a small part of its virus samples, and the number of this variant that cannot be accurately estimated in the country is too small.
The new travel policy was released after the Japanese government announced on Tuesday that four travelers from Brazil had imported another new variant of the virus into Japan. Two other so-called interesting variants are said to be popular in South Africa and Brazil.
Confused about the terminology of coronavirus testing? Let us help:
- Antibody: A protein produced by the immune system that can accurately identify and attach to specific types of viruses, bacteria or other invaders.
- Antibody test/serological test: A test that detects antibodies specific to coronavirus. About a week after the coronavirus infects the human body, antibodies begin to appear in the blood. Because antibodies take a long time to develop, antibody tests cannot reliably diagnose ongoing infections. But it can identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus in the past.
- Antigen test: This test detects some fragments of coronavirus proteins called antigens. The antigen test is fast, only five minutes, but it is not as accurate as the test that detects genetic material from the virus.
- coronavirus: Any virus belonging to the Orthocoronavirinae virus family. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is called SARS-CoV-2.
- Coronavirus disease: The disease is caused by the new coronavirus. The name is short for Coronavirus Disease 2019.
- Isolation and isolation: Quarantine is to separate people who know they have an infectious disease from those who are not infected. Quarantine refers to restricting the activities of people exposed to the virus.
- Nasopharyngeal swab: A long, soft stick with a soft cotton swab attached to it is inserted deep into the nose to obtain a sample from the space where the nasal cavity meets the throat. Coronavirus test samples can also be collected with swabs that do not penetrate the nose (sometimes called nasal swabs) or oral or throat swabs.
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): Scientists use PCR to replicate millions of genetic material in samples. Testing using PCR allows researchers to detect coronaviruses even when they are scarce.
- Viral load: The number of viruses in the human body. If symptoms are completely present, the viral load may peak before symptoms are reached in people infected with the coronavirus.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force and federal agencies including the CDC have been discussing expansion requirements for several weeks.
The CDC currently recommends that all travelers, including those flying within the United States, test one to three days before the trip and three to five days after the trip is completed.
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Many airlines offer optional tests for passengers, but only enforce them when the destination requires them to do so. But last week, a group representing major US airlines supported a policy that requires all passengers to be tested.
United Airlines welcomed the move in a statement, saying the test is “the key to freeing international borders.”
The airline said in a statement: “United Airlines has established procedures to comply with similar orders in international jurisdictions, and we will expand these procedures based on this new mission plan.”
“In addition, United Airlines is also actively working to introduce new technologies and processes to make it easier for our employees and customers to browse these test requirements.”
Niraj Chokshi contributed the report.