Some US states have decided to allow visitors from Britain to enter the US as long as they test negative for coronavirus no more than 72 hours before the flight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday that anyone flying into the US from the UK must have a negative test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before the flight. The agency cited concerns about a new variant of the coronavirus that goes into effect on Monday as the reason for the rule, The Verge wrote.
Coronavirus, like all viruses, mutates regularly, spreading to the population. Most mutations don’t make the virus behave differently, but this new variant, which has emerged in the UK, spreads more easily than other forms of the virus. It does not seem to cause problems for those who are ill and does not appear to be more deadly, although researchers are still investigating the issue. Experts say that vaccines already approved against COVID-19 are likely to still be effective against it.
The new variant is spreading rapidly in London and the south-east of England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed tight restrictions on the area, and dozens of countries have banned UK travellers from entering.
Two US states, New York and Washington, already have restrictions on travel from the UK. British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic have agreed to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request to screen passengers flying into the state. Washington is asking people leaving the UK to be quarantined for 14 days.
Earlier this week, Anthony Fauci told Good Morning America that he would not recommend a total travel ban from the UK, which he called “wrong”. According to Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, asking for negative tests is a much better move.
Asking travellers to be tested for COVID-19 is a more effective way of testing than fever and symptoms, which, however, do not cover many patients. However, a test within three days of travel will not be an ideal marker: someone may test the day before travel and only detect symptoms when they land.
A new mutation may already be circulating in the US, Fauci said. “When you have so many vectors in a place like the UK, you really have to assume the virus is already in the US.”