US imposes mandatory Covid-19 tests for UK air travelers to protect Americans from mutant strain – CDC

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The US government will require anyone traveling from Britain to test negative for coronavirus 72 hours before departing the country, the CDC said, citing a new and more transmissible variant of the illness detected in the UK.

In a statement issued late on Thursday night, the top US health agency said the new policy would come into effect next week. The rule mandates that UK travelers test negative on a PCR or antigen screening no more than three days before leaving, also requiring them to provide “written documentation” of their negative test result.

A #ChristmasEve drop from the @CDCgov CDC to Require Negative #COVID19 Test from Air Travelers from the United KingdomThis order will be signed tomorrow, December 25, and become effective on December 28, 2020.

— Chris Hendel (@chrishendel) December 25, 2020

The announcement comes just days after reports that the Donald Trump administration would not impose the rule-change, following a White House meeting on Monday where the idea was reportedly raised. As dozens of other nations acted much faster to bring in even harsher restrictions, it is unclear what might have prompted Washington’s about-face.

The new travel bans and testing requirements were introduced amid fears of a highly infectious coronavirus strain in the UK. According to some health experts, it could be up to 70 percent more transmissible than other known variants. However, one top German virologist, Christian Drosten, cautioned against quantifying the danger of the new strain, telling RT this week that the data is “incomplete.”

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As the UK’s case count balloons to nearly 2.2 million, with just shy of 70,000 fatalities, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to rule out yet another nationwide lockdown, arguing that the country faces “considerable new pressures” from the mutant strain.

“I do think it is necessary for us to grip this virus now, to stop it running out of control in January. Because we need to buy ourselves time to get the vaccine into as many arms of the elderly and vulnerable as we can,” the PM said.

I know that it’s been very, very tough over the last few weeks and, I must tell people, it will continue to be difficult.

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