NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced yesterday it is expanding the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States.
This order was signed by CDC Director Robert R Redfield, MD, on January 12, 2021 and will become effective on January 26, 2021.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk, 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,” he said.
The new protocol comes as the United States experienced record numbers of cases and deaths related to COVID-19 last week.
Initially, the country had only required travelers from the UK to test negative for the virus prior to arrival, following reports of a new, more contagious COVID variant originating in the UK.
A CDC statement on the decision read: “Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans.
“Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants. With the US 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.”
It added: “Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the three days before their flight to the US departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.
“Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.”
The CDC also recommends US citizens and residents to get tested again three to five days after arrival in the United States, and to self-isolate at home for seven days after traveling to “help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections”.
“Pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travelers before they board airplanes,” the CDC said.