CDC says U.S.-bound air travelers can use some self-administered COVID-19 tests

(Reuters; David Shepardson)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday that U.S.-bound international air travelers can meet COVID-19 entry requirements using certain self-administered tests.

In January, the CDC mandated that all airline passengers aged two and older — including U.S. citizens — be able to provide negative COVID tests within three days of coming to the United States or show proof of recovery from COVID-19.

The CDC’s decision was praised by Airlines for America, a trade group, saying it would “allow FDA-approved proctored home testing for international passengers entering the U.S. This is an encouraging step in facilitating the international travel process.”

Some Americans have feared they would be unable to have access to testing in some foreign countries. The CDC noted that some countries may restrict importation of tests that are not authorized or registered there.

Passengers using a self-test must use a telehealth service that provides real-time supervision remotely during testing.

Airlines must be able to review and confirm the person’s identity and test result details.

The move comes as some U.S. officials have expressed concerns in government meetings over ensuring passengers are providing accurate COVID-19 test results. U.S. airlines often review test results written in foreign languages.

Travelers walk through a pick-up area in the arrivals section at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Washington, U.S. April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

The rules took effect on Jan. 26, after Canada followed other countries in imposing similar rules for nearly all international arrivals on Jan. 7.

Land-border restrictions between Canada and the United States, imposed in March 2020, have been extended to May 21. Now in place for 13 months, they are being renewed month by month. Mexico is also maintaining some of its border curbs.

The Biden administration has studied whether to impose COVID-19 testing requirements for land border crossings, but has not issued requirements in part because of a lack of testing capacity in Mexico.

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