The U.S. will stop enhanced coronavirus screenings for travelers arriving from overseas starting next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Wednesday.
The U.S. government on Monday will remove requirements for directing all flights carrying passengers arriving from certain countries and end enhanced screening of passengers at the select airports in the U.S., according to the CDC’s announcement.
The CDC said it was ending the screenings due to a better understanding of the coronavirus that indicated that the symptom-based screening has “limited effectiveness because people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or fever at the time of screening, or only mild symptoms.”
“Therefore, CDC is shifting its strategy and prioritizing other public health measures to reduce the risk of travel-related disease transmission,” the agency said.
The enhanced screenings started in January after the outbreak first emerged in Wuhan, China. The enhanced screenings are being conducted for travelers arriving from, or with recent presence in, China, Iran, the Schengen region of Europe, the U.K, Ireland and Brazil, according to the CDC.
A Trump administration official told CNN that a draft public affairs guidance memo lays out the rationale for ending airport screenings, stating that of the 675,000 passengers screened at 15 airports, fewer than 15 have been identified as having COVID-19.
Since January, some airports have checked travelers arriving from high-risk countries. The screenings included questions about medical history, current conditions and contact information for local health authorities, CNN reported.
Airlines for America, an aviation industry group, voiced support for the decision to end screenings in a statement to CNN.
"We continue to support spending scarce screening resources where they can best be utilized and no longer believe that it makes sense to continue screening at these 15 airports given the extremely low number of passengers identified by the CDC as potentially having a health issue," the group said.
The virus has infected more than 27 million people and killed more than 899,000 people globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has reported more than 6.3 million cases and 190,478 fatalities.
Updated on Sept. 10 at 11:25 a.m.