HOULTON, Maine — Residents of Houlton and other Maine border communities who have traveled to China recently or present symptoms of illness may face additional screening before they are allowed back into the United States.
Under new regulations recently announced by the Trump administration, U.S. citizens re-entering the country from Canada will be given additional screening if Customs and Border Protection determines they are a public risk by displaying possible symptoms of COVID-19, the official name for the new coronavirus that originated, in December 2019, in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Recent travel to China, as well as other countries where outbreaks have occurred, such as Italy and Iran, may mean a person is at increased risk for being a carrier of the disease.
“CBP officers use a combination of traveler history records, officer questioning and observation, and self-declarations to identify individuals who may require additional health screening,” Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for the agency, said in an email to the Houlton Pioneer Times. “As the COVID-19 epidemic progresses, we are reminding all CBP employees to use proper procedures to prevent the spread of communicable disease.”
Foreign nationals entering through the Canadian border — with the exception of those with immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents and flight crew members — who have been to China or Iran within the past 14 days prior to crossing will be denied entry into the United States.
At least one Canadian citizen has been turned away from the border as part of this temporary ban, CNN reports.
President Donald Trump said late last month that his administration was considering closing U.S. borders, but later backtracked and said there are no plans to close either the Mexican or Canadian borders at this time.
At least 11 people have died in Washington state from the virus, with cases reported in King and Snohomish counties, less than 100 miles from the state’s border with Canada.