Omicron variant: CDC asks airlines for names of passengers from travel ban countries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked airlines to turn over passenger manifests and other contract tracing data for all travelers who have arrived in the US from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe or who have been in those countries during the 14-day period preceding their arrival in the US.

The US public health authority made the demand in a 30 November letter to air carriers which cited citing “the emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19”.

The agency said the data — including “the contact information of these passengers” — will be turned over to “jurisdictional state and local public health partners for public health follow-up,” which could include “recommendations for potential postarrival viral testing and quarantine and isolation”.

The CDC’s directive to airlines, which was first reported by Reuters, comes nearly a month after an October directive for carriers operating flights arriving from anywhere overseas to “collect and/or maintain passenger and crewmember contact information” went into effect in concert with the Biden administration’s decision to reopen US borders to vaccinated travelers.

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