The government of President Joe Biden will take steps in the coming days to tighten diagnostic testing requirements for travelers heading to the United States, whether vaccinated or not, amid the spread of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement Tuesday that they are already working to require that all people arriving by air to the country undergo diagnostic tests for COVID-19 in the 24 hours prior to boarding their flights. Currently, those with a complete vaccination schedule can present an analysis carried out up to three days before their trip.
“CDC is working to modify its current Global Travel Analysis Order as we learn more about the omicron variant; A modified order would reduce the period to perform the required diagnostic tests for all international travelers by air to one day before their departure to the United States.”, Indicated the agency.
Precise diagnostic testing protocols are still being detailed in anticipation of Biden’s speech scheduled for Thursday, outlining his government’s plans to control the COVID-19 pandemic during the winter season, according to a senior official who added. that some details could still change.
“CDC is evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including diagnostic tests closer to the flight and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and voluntary quarantines,” said CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so that he could reveal the government’s plans before their formal announcement, said that Options to consider also include post-arrival diagnostic tests or even voluntary quarantines.
The Government is studying the possibility of requiring air travelers to submit to another test within three to five days of arrival to the country, authorities said. Although the CDC did not confirm it, they also consider a “post-trip quarantine for any unvaccinated traveler”(Among the few exceptions that are enabled).
Currently, the CDC recommends that diagnostic tests be performed within three to five days after arriving in the United States from abroad, as well as isolation of unimmunized travelers, although compliance is voluntary and few are believed to do so.
The CDC lists about 80 foreign destinations at “level four,” its highest level of COVID-19 transmission, and advises Americans against traveling to those destinations.
The new measure occurs just weeks after the United States fully opened its borders to foreign travelers with a full vaccination scheme, on November 8, and instituted a two-stage diagnostic analysis system that gave those travelers with a full vaccination schedule additional time to obtain a diagnostic test before their arrival, while non-immunized passengers were forced to present a diagnostic test performed less than 24 hours before your flight.
Much is still unknown about the new variant – detected in more than 20 countries, but not yet in the United States – such as whether it is more contagious, causes more serious disease, or can elude the protection provided by existing vaccines. .
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s leading infectious disease expert, said more will be known about the omicron mutation within two to four weeks as scientists grow and analyze laboratory samples of the new variant of the coronavirus. .
In an attempt to reassure the population about the presence of the new variant, Biden said that in his statements next Thursday “I will be presenting a detailed strategy outlining how we are going to fight COVID this winter, not with lockdowns or confinements. , but with large-scale vaccinations, boosters, diagnostic tests and more ”.
When asked by reporters if he will consult with allied governments about any changes to the travel rules, considering that his predecessor Donald Trump came to take world leaders by surprise, Biden said: “Unlike Trump, I do not surprise our allies.” .
(With information from AP and Reuters)