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US set to end enhanced screening of some global travellers for Covid-19: sources

Washington

THE US government is set to end enhanced screening of some international passengers for Covid-19 and drop requirements that travellers coming from the targeted countries arrive at 15 designated US airports, according to US and airline officials and a government document seen by Reuters.

The changes are set to take effect as early as Monday, according to the draft rollout plan seen by Reuters, but the move could still be delayed, US officials said.

The administration in February imposed enhanced screening requirements on travellers who had been in China, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Iran and the Schengen region of Europe, and barred most non-US citizens who have been in those locations from coming to the US.

The document says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "is shifting its strategy and prioritising other public health measures to reduce the risk of travel-related disease transmission".

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It said that of 675,000 passengers screened at the 15 airports, "fewer than 15 have been identified as having Covid-19". A spokesman for the CDC did not immediately comment.

The "current entry strategy for international arrivals only covers a small portion of the travelling public, requires significant resources and is not sustainable as travel volumes increase", the document said.

Those travellers, who numbered around 6,750 a day as of late August, undergo visual observations, temperature checks and complete traveller declarations. Anyone showing signs of illness or possible exposure is referred for public health assessments.

Airlines for America, a group representing American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, said the group supports "spending scarce screening resources where they can best be utilised and no longer believe that it makes sense to continue screening at these 15 airports given the extremely low number of passengers identified by the CDC as potentially having a health issue". The plan to halt the checks was reported earlier by Yahoo News.

Last month, Reuters reported that the Trump administration's efforts to require airlines to collect contact tracing information from US-bound international passengers had stalled, and that such a mandate is unlikely this year. REUTERS

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