The United States requires a negative coronavirus test from UK travelers

Anyone flying to the United States from the United Kingdom will have to be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours before the flight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday. The agency cited concerns about the new coronavirus variant, which takes effect on Monday, as the reason for the rule.

The coronavirus, like all viruses, regularly mutated as the population spread. Most mutations do not make the virus behave differently, but this new variant, which has appeared in the UK, seems to spread more easily than other forms of the virus. It doesn’t seem to make people sicker and it doesn’t seem more deadly, although researchers are still studying the issue. Experts say the already approved COVID-19 vaccine is likely to continue to be effective against it.

The new variant is spreading rapidly through London and the south-east of England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the area under stricter closure to keep it going, and dozens of countries have banned travelers from the UK.

Two U.S. states, New York and Washington, already have restrictions on travel to the United Kingdom. British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic agreed to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request to test passengers flying into the state. Washington is looking for people traveling from the UK in quarantine for 14 days.

Said Anthony Fauci Good morning America earlier this week that he would not recommend a total travel ban from the UK, which he called “draconian”. The testing was a more realistic step, said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Asking passengers to be tested for COVID-19 is a more effective screen than checking for temperature and symptoms, which will ultimately not catch many sick people. However, a test within three days of travel will not be the perfect network: someone could test negative the day before the trip and develop symptoms when they land.

It is possible that the new variant is already circulating in the United States, Fauci said. “When you have this much spread within a place like the UK, you really have to assume it’s already here.”