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Flights continue to land in US from China and Europe despite travel ban, passengers' screening questioned

Subsequent questions are also being raised over how the mandatory 14-day quarantine for those coming from abroad is being enforced
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Donald Trump administration has reiterated time and again that it has taken a strong stand on stopping people from arriving into the US from places like China in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic but the reality offers a different picture. Aviation data have revealed that flights continue to reach America from Wuhan, from where the pandemic believed to have started, and Europe, the continent that has been badly hit by the disease. 

According to Flight Tracker data, people are arriving on American shores daily from nations that have been blamed for causing the epidemic spread across the country. The revelations are bound to fuel the allegations that passengers are not getting screened properly for the virus on arrival in the US. Subsequent questions are also being raised over how the mandatory 14-day quarantine for those coming from abroad is being enforced. The Flight Tracker information has revealed that five planes have landed in New York’s JFK and Newark airports from London since the beginning of Wednesday, May 20. More flights were expected to land. The UK is one of the worst-hit countries in Europe with nearly 250,000 getting affected. More than 35,000 have died there so far. In the US, more than 1.5 million people have been hit by the coronavirus while over 93,480 have died. In Los Angeles, a China Eastern flight from Wuhan landed on Wednesday afternoon. 

In March, Trump ordered a ban on flights from several European nations (UK was added to the list later) after the pandemic started taking a heavy toll on the US and the president blamed international travel for the situation. Trump has also claimed credit for having decided to stop flights coming in China although it was reported in early April that 430,000 people have reached the US directly from the Asian nation since Beijing first disclosed the outbreak to the international health officials in late last December. Trump also accused the World Health Organization of not taking his administration’s preparations seriously. 

While foreign nationals who have visited countries like China, Iran, Ireland, UK and other places in Europe in the previous 14 days have been banned from entering the US, American citizens, green-card holders, family members and other exceptions who have traveled to these high-risk countries can still enter the US. On the question of screening of passengers traveling from places hit by the virus, the US Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said individuals have to face "enhanced entry screening" that includes questions about their medical history and current state. 

Travelers reaching New York have come up with mixed reactions over the screening process. While some said the officials were particular about quarantine, others said they were not satisfactory. The state of New York has been the worst hit in the US. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo admitted that the state officials were not tracking the arrivals once they reach NY and said in a press conference on Tuesday, May 19, that the responsibility of screening and monitoring lies with the federal government.