US tightens COVID-19 travel rules as countries race to stamp out Omicron threat

FILE PHOTO: Passengers depart at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark
FILE PHOTO: Passengers wait in line inside the terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

December 1, 2021

By David Shepardson and Sakura Murakami

WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Travelers to the United States will face tougher COVID-19 testing rules, as some countries move to blockade their borders amid uncertainty about virulence of the Omicron variant and its ability to evade existing vaccines.

In Asia-Pacific, Japan and Hong Kong said they would expand travel routes, while Australia omicron-case-no-lockdowns-now- 2021-12-01 has prepared for more cases of the coronavirus variant after at least two people visited several locations in its largest city while potentially infectious potential.

In an effort to prevent hasty border crossings, the World Health Organization (WHO) urges countries to adopt an “evidence-based and risk-based approach” to measures. travel bans, saying that “travel bans will not stop the spread internationally, and they place a heavy emphasis on lives and livelihoods”.

Investors kept the edge on Wednesday, even as financial markets tumbled to their lowest a day earlier after remarks by Moderna’s CEO raised questions about the effectiveness of a COVID vaccine. -19 against Omicron. [MKTS/GLOB]

Global health officials have since offered reassurance and reiterated calls for people to get vaccinated.

European Medicines Agency chief executive Emer Cooke said: “Even as the new variant becomes more common, the vaccines we have in place will continue to provide protection.

Laboratory analyzes will show in the next two weeks whether the blood of those vaccinated has enough antibodies to neutralize the new variant, Cooke said, echoing comments by vaccine maker BioNTech and scientists.

BioNTech’s CEO says the vaccine it’s working with Pfizer to make will likely provide strong protection against serious illness from Omicron.

The UK and the US have both promoted their booster programs in response to the new variant.

First reported in southern Africa a week ago, Omicron has sparked global alarm, market turmoil, led to travel bans and underscored the disparity between the massive vaccination push in rich countries and vaccination is sparse in developing countries.

About 56 countries are believed to have implemented travel measures as a precaution against Omicron as of November 28, the WHO said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “I understand well the interest of all countries in protecting their citizens against a variant that we do not fully understand.

“But I am equally concerned that some member states are introducing blunt, gentle measures that are not based on evidence or effectiveness of their own, and that this will only exacerbate the situation. inequality,” Ghebreyesus added.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late Tuesday that the United States is in the process of requiring all non-entry to the country to have a negative COVID-19 test performed. within one day of departure.

Currently, vaccinated international travelers can test negative within three days of their departure. The new one-day test requirement will apply to US citizens as well as foreign nationals.

Officials said the administration is also considering whether to require airliners to take another test within three to five days of arrival.

Although the CDC does not confirm that, the CDC notes that it continues to recommend that all “travelers should be tested for COVID-19 virus 3-5 days after arrival” and “post-departure quarantine.” travel to any unvaccinated traveler”.

The CDC lists about 80 foreign destinations with “Level Four,” the highest levels of COVID-19 transmission, and discourages Americans from traveling to those destinations.

In Asia, Japan, which has closed its borders to all new foreigners, said it would extend the ban to foreigners with residency status from 10 African countries, including including South Africa.

Hong Kong will extend its entry ban for non-residents to three more countries, Japan, Portugal and Sweden, as of Friday.

South Korea’s Interior and Safety Minister Jeon Hae-cheol has called for stricter virus containment measures for Omicron, after suspected cases were imported from Nigeria.

The country, which has reported a daily record of more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases, has so far not detected any confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

Global airlines are bracing for new upheavals as Omicron could force them to adjust schedules and destinations at short notice, analysts say.

Deidre Fulton, a partner at consulting firm MIDAS Aviation, said at an industry webinar: “It feels like we’re going back to where we were a year ago and it’s not a new one. Great prospects for the industry and beyond.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Sakura Murakami and Elaine lying in Tokyo, Reju Jose and Jamie Freed in Sydney, and Reuters offices; Writing by Himani Sarkar; Editing by Shri Navratnam) US tightens COVID-19 travel rules as countries race to stamp out Omicron threat


DUSTIN JONES is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DUSTIN JONES joined USTimeToday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with DUSTIN JONES by emailing

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