Washington. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to tighten coronavirus testing and screening for international travelers to the United States, by requiring them to submit a negative result from a test taken within 24 hours prior to departure, an agency spokesperson said Tuesday night.
The move to strengthen the testing system reflects growing concern about the Omicron variant, a highly mutated form of the virus first documented by researchers in South Africa and detected in more than a dozen countries around the world.
“The CDC is working to adjust the current global testing arrangement for travel as we learn more about the Omicron variant; the revised order will shorten the schedule of testing required for all international air travelers to a day prior to departure in the United States,” said spokesman Jason MacDonald.
“This reinforces the already robust protocols for international travel, including requirements to fully vaccinate foreign travelers,” he added.
Yesterday morning, a senior administration official said health officials are checking whether current testing, which allows fully vaccinated people to get tested for up to three days before leaving on a flight to the United States, is strict enough. It was not clear whether the new 24-hour rule required a PCR or antigen test.
President Biden said he will announce his plans to improve the fight against the pandemic on Thursday. It’s unclear whether it will announce more stringent testing requirements for international travelers, which the Washington Post first reported, during Thursday’s speech. MacDonald has not provided a timeline for the CDC’s work.
Meanwhile, MacDonald said the CDC continues to recommend that all travelers be tested for the coronavirus three to five days before they arrive in the United States. Unvaccinated travelers should be isolated and quarantined for seven days after arrival, even if they test negative.
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