Photo: The Conversation


Effective Tuesday, Jan. 26, all persons entering the United States by air must get tested before they travel or present proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from their healthcare provider or a public health official stating that they are clear to travel.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued an new ordinance Tuesday, Jan. 12, requiring all air passengers arriving to the United States from a foreign country to get tested no more than three days prior to their flight and to provide proof of the negative result, or, if they have contracted the disease, documentation of having recovered from covid-19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in a statement.

All documentation must be presented to the airline before boarding the flight, the ordinance states.

The new ruling applies to all air passengers, age 2 and above, traveling into the United States, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

The written documentation provided to the airline personnel must be of a negative viral test (which checks for current infection, as opposed to an antibody test) that has been administered within three days before the scheduled flight departure.

The viral test can be either a NAAT (also called molecular or viral testing, done by swabbing the nose or mouth or collecting saliva) or an antigen test (done by swabbing the nose).

The documentation of a verifiable laboratory test result can be either paper or electronic.

Test result documentation must include information that identifies the person, a specimen collection date and the type of test.

If a traveler has previously contracted covid-19, they must present documentation from their health provider or a recognized laboratory of their full recovery.

Persons who have had a positive viral test in the past three months and have met the criteria to end isolation can travel instead with documentation of their positive viral test results and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that states that they have been cleared for travel.

The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”

If a traveler’s flight is delayed before departure, they will need to get retested if the delay causes their test to fall outside of the three-day pre-departure testing period requirement.

Any person who chooses not to take a test will be denied boarding access.

Additionally, the CDC recommends that travelers get tested three to five days after travel and stay home or otherwise self-quarantine for seven days after their arrival.

All travelers (including those who have recovered from COVID-19) must wear a maskstay at least six feet apart from people who are not in your household and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing and before eating.

Travelers should look for symptoms of covid-19, and take your temperature if you feel sick. Anyone sick with symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isoalte and delay further travel.

“With the United States already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public,” the HHS statement said.

“Pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travelers before they board airplanes.”

“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” added CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, “but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions, like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports and at destinations.”

The HHS Department statement went on to note that there have been several presidential proclamations establishing previous restrictions on the entry of certain travelers into the United States in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease.

With specific exceptions, foreign nationals who have been in certain countries during the past 14 days may not enter the United States.

Those countries include China, Iran, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), Ireland and Brazil, as well as members of the European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City).

…Jan. 13, 2021


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