US officials are mulling whether to mandate coronavirus tests for all travelers from Britain, potentially making negative screenings a condition for entry amid concerns over a highly infectious new strain of the illness.
Officials considered the move following a meeting of the White House’s Covid-19 task force on Monday, Reuters reported, citing government personnel and airline representatives briefed on the plan.
While the White House has reportedly yet to make a final decision, talk of the move came hours after three airlines – Delta, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways – agreed to voluntarily screen passengers for the virus at the request of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who asked that they restrict flights to those who have tested negative. All three airlines operate flights out of London and are expected to begin the testing sometime this week.
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More than 40 countries, though excluding the US, have shut their borders to the UK since Sunday as reports of a new virulent coronavirus strain make the rounds, with some health officials alleging it is some 70 percent more infectious than other known variants. However, a top German virologist – Christian Drosten, who heads the virology department at Berlin’s Charite Center – has thrown cold water on the more alarmist reports, telling RT on Monday that it’s simply too soon to quantify the danger of the new strain, pointing to “incomplete data.”
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