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United Airlines unveils voluntary contact tracing program

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United Airlines announced a contract tracing initiative on all flights in the effort to contain Covid-19./AFP
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Dec 17, 2020 - 09:35 AM

NEW YORK — United Airlines announced Wednesday a program to collect customer contact data on all flights to assist health officials in contact tracing in the effort to contain Covid-19.

The program, which will cover both domestic and international flights, follows a similar announcement earlier this month by rival Delta Air Lines, but the Delta program only pertains to international flights.

The program, which is supported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be voluntary for passengers.

Consumers who opt in will be asked at check-in for contact details such as an email address, phone number and address where they can be reached once they arrive.

Such details “were previously difficult for the CDC to obtain in real-time,” United said in a press release.

“Contact tracing is a fundamental component of the nation’s public health response strategy for controlling the spread of communicable diseases of public health concern,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield in the press release.

“Collection of contact information from air travelers will greatly improve the timeliness and completeness of information for COVID-19 public health follow-up and contact tracing.”

Faced with plummeting demand for travel, airlines have been redoubling efforts to reassure customers, including initiatives to pre-test passengers for Covid-19 before departing.

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