Since March, travellers arriving to the US from abroad had to fly into one of 15 designated airports, where they would be screened for COVID-19. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that it is ending this program. Bloomberg reports that as of September 14th, US airports won’t be screening international arrivals for COVID-19.
US Airports Won’t be Screening International Arrivals for COVID-19
Currently, all passengers coming from China (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, the Schengen region of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil must enter through a screening airport. Here, passengers answer questions about their medical history and current health condition. Now, the CDC will ask passengers to submit information electronically.
The CDC says that they will now refocus their efforts “on individual passenger risk throughout the air travel journey.”
According to a news release, the CDC says that:
“We now have a better understanding of Covid-19 transmission that indicates symptom-based screening has limited effectiveness.”
While the CDC says that this new approach will “protect the health of the American public,” some experts disagree. Speaking to Bloomberg, Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University says that the new approach might not be best. He says that not replacing the screenings with mandatory quarantines for travellers from countries with high rates of community transmission might raise the risk of importing fresh cases.
“These policies were likely at best marginally effective. We know that temperature screenings are not an effective barrier,” he said. “My concern is less that they’re removing these barriers and more that they’re not replacing them with a required quarantine.”