US halts COVID-19 symptom checks, screenings for high-risk countries

The feds on Monday ended COVID-19 screenings for international travelers coming into New York and other designated airports around the country.

The new CDC policy ends the eight-month-old rule requiring travelers from pandemic hotspots to enter the United State through one of 15 airports and undergo mandatory health checks.

The agency said it found checking for symptoms was ultimately ineffective — and a spokesman said only 15 of the nearly 700,00 people who went through the “enhanced” screenings were found to have COVID-19.

“Because symptom-based entry health screening for COVID-19 has identified so few cases, CDC is prioritizing other public health measures to reduce the risk of travel-related transmission including education of passengers before, during, and after travel,” rep Jason McDonald said in an email.

Travelers will no longer be required to fill out forms with their contact information, he confirmed.

Instead, new protocols “focus on the individual passenger,” the CDC said. That includes “health education,” “voluntary collection of contract information” and “potential testing.”

Officials will also recommend that travelers from high-risk countries “stay at home to the extent possible for 14 days.”

Flyers from China, Iran, western Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brazil were previously subject to an “enhanced” health screening that included a temperature check and form asking about past travel, symptoms and contact info.

But the screenings were more of a goal than reality at the height of the pandemic in March, when travelers from high-risk countries told The Post they were shocked to find bare-bones procedures at New York airports.

Hofstra public health professor Dr. Anthony Santella nevertheless called the policy change “misguided.” He said the 15 positive cases found by CDC screeners were “not nothing.”

“Taking temperatures is cheap, super-easy, non-invasive. Most people, unless they are really sick, don’t know what their temperature is,” Santella said.

“It’s something that could go a long way. It takes all of a minute to do. Just do it.”

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