On Wednesday, as the Canadian government broadcasted that all passengers entering the country must have tested negative for COVID-19 within three days before their arrival, sources briefed on the rule told, that the United States government considers the same requirements for travelers beyond the United Kingdom as early as next week.
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Sources briefed on the call said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other US agencies held a lengthy call with US airlines that discussed expanding the travel requirements on Wednesday.
The spokesperson for the US Transportation Department confirmed the call with airlines took place. On Monday, the US government began requiring all airline travelers arriving from the UK, including US citizens, to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure.
In a statement on Wednesday, CDC said, "efforts are presently ongoing in the US to evaluate the risk reduction associated with testing and other recommended preventative measures, determine what a feasible testing regime for air travel may look like, and gain some level of agreement on standards for a harmonized approach to testing for international air travel."
Officials said the White House could decide as early as next week to add new countries to the testing requirements, but the effectivity date is not precise yet.
The dialogs come after a new Covid-19 strain discovered in the UK thought to be more contagious was established to have infected a man near Denver, Colorado, on Tuesday. It is the first identified case of the new COVID-19 variant in the US. The man had no travel history, though, raising queries on how he was infected with the strain.
On Tuesday, US public health officials said, "the covid-19 testing the US requires for travelers from the UK should probably be extended to other countries, as well."
Brett Giroir, US Assistant Secretary for Health, said, "I think that probably should be extended to other countries."
The decision came as a reversal after the officials had told US airlines it was not planning to require testing for arriving UK passengers.
On Tuesday, United Airlines sent a memo to President-elect Joe Biden's transition team asking for a White House task force to reestablish air travel safety and arguing for "passenger testing as an alternative to travel restrictions."
The memo said that "by advancing safe alternatives to travel restrictions, the White House Task Force would help restore US global leadership in public health while reestablishing critical linkages between economies, communities, businesses, and families around the globe." Said Reuters, a news agency that obtained the memo
President-elect Joe Biden has assured to mandate wearing masks for all interstate travel, including in flights.
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According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, the US has more than 19 million confirmed Covid-19 infections and more than 340,000 deaths.
Separately, the Canadian government said that all travelers must have a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before arriving in the country.
"The measure will be implemented in the next few days," according to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
Canada by now required those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days, and it has already barred all UK flights due to the new variant of COVID-19 spreading there.