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C.D.C. Still Unprepared to Respond Quickly to Global Travel Threats, U.S. Audit Finds

The U.S. Centers for Ailment Handle and Prevention’s reliance on outdated techniques to collect and assess facts on global air travelers carries on to hamper its skill to respond swiftly to disorder threats, according to a new report by the Govt Accountability Office environment.

The report reported that limits in how the C.D.C. collects and manages make contact with information and facts for air travelers can make it tricky to carry out make contact with tracing and track public health risks. The agency, the G.A.O. uncovered, “is unable to quickly and accurately identify the selection of passengers exposed to a specific infected passenger on a flight.”

Two and a 50 % years immediately after the coronavirus began to distribute across the globe, the G.A.O. claimed in a statement on Tuesday that the pandemic “highlighted how unprepared the U.S. public wellbeing and aviation devices are to reply to community well being threats.”

The G.A.O.’s findings carry a feeling of urgency this summer time, as tourism and vacation have started to technique prepandemic levels even although the Omicron subvariant regarded as BA.5 is fueling a surge in instances in lots of international locations.

In the United States, reported cases have been averaging all around 100,000 a working day — a figure that is likely to be undercounted given an escalating reliance on at-residence screening and the closures of mass testing web sites.

The C.D.C. did not straight away reply to a ask for for comment on Tuesday. The G.A.O. did note some adjustments the company experienced made, but said its information programs still desired “substantial improvement.” It claimed that the C.D.C. had “concurred with the recommendations” in its report, including that the agency redesign its information system or build a new a person.

U.S. authorities have built endeavours to trace travelers who may perhaps have contracted Covid-19 overseas. For illustration, in late November, when Omicron circumstances were soaring in southern Africa, officials directed airlines to share contact information and facts for passengers who flew from the region into the United States.

The C.D.C.’s details administration technique was made in the mid-2000s, the G.A.O. report claimed, and “was not developed for rapid evaluation or aggregation of general public well being information across person circumstances.” That hobbled the company, the report reported, that means the C.D.C. “is not positioned to proficiently examine and disseminate knowledge to notify public wellness procedures and respond to disease threats.”

Worries have been lifted about the worldwide transmission of really infectious diseases given that the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s.

“More than any other mode of transportation, air vacation generates the prospective for infectious disorders to shift swiftly from just one part of the entire world to yet another,” the report explained.

The facts method used by the C.D.C. prompted contact investigations from about 80 to 130 flights just about every year from 2015 to 2019, and about 25,000 flights in 2020, according to the report.