The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has on Tuesday issued a new requirement for all passengers entering the United States via aeroplane -- they must test negative to COVID-19.
"Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants," the CDC wrote. "With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public."
As of Tuesday, there has been a total of 22.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US -- almost the entire population of Australia. 375,124 people have lost their lives to coronavirus in the US.
A mandatory COVID-19 test before departure to the United States, combined with the CDC's recommendations to both get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for seven days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections, the CDC said.
The directive will come into place on January 26.
"Testing does not eliminate all risk," CDC director Robert Redfield said. "But when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations."
The CDC also said pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travellers before they board an aeroplane.
The viral test can be taken within three days of departure to the US. Written documentation of the laboratory test result -- or a documentation confirming the passenger has recovered from COVID-19 -- will need to be presented to the airline.
Failure to do so will see the passenger denied entry onto the aircraft.