As COVID surges in China, US begins testing more travelers | amNewYork

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The airport testing is part of the government's early warning system for detecting new variants, which began expanding recently in the wake of a COVID-19 surge in China.

“It’s a minimum amount of effort to help a lot of people,” said the 27-year-old New York City man, who had just stepped off a plane from Cancun, Mexico.

And down the road, some scientists are calling for wider use of an additional strategy: screening wastewater from toilet tanks on arriving airplanes. The airport program is based on an unfortunate reality: “Travelers … go across the globe quickly and they can get and spread infectious diseases really fast,” said Dr. Cindy Friedman, chief of CDC’s travelers’ health branch.

Like other travelers, he won’t get the results. But he tests for COVID-19 when he flies to Ohio every other month to see his mom, he said, since “the last thing I want to do is bring home to her.” But Jetelina said a surveillance program at seven airports is “just not that big” so trying to spot variants might be like “looking for a needle in the haystack.”“It’s a little gross when you start thinking about it,” Jetelina said. “But these are really long flights and we would expect the majority of people would go to the bathroom.”

 

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