Air travellers to US likely to face tougher Covid-19 testing: Report

Currently, vaccinated international air travellers can present a negative test result obtained within three days. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Biden administration is likely to impose stricter Covid-19 testing rules for air travellers entering the United States amid concerns about the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters.

A draft proposal is circulating among government agencies, officials said, that would require all air passengers arriving from other countries to show a negative Covid-19 test performed within one day of departure from their point of origin.

Currently, vaccinated international air travellers can present a negative test result obtained within three days.

Nearly all foreign nationals must be vaccinated to enter the US. Unvaccinated travellers must get a negative Covid-19 test within one day of arrival.

The administration is also considering whether to require air travellers to get another Covid-19 test within three to five days after arrival in the US, officials said.

The stricter rules could be announced Thursday (Dec 2), but it was not clear when they might take effect.

US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency "is evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including pre-departure testing closer to the time of flight and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantines".

On Monday, the White House barred nearly all foreign nationals who have recently been in South Africa and seven other southern African countries over concerns about the Omicron variant.

A White House official said the administration is evaluating Covid-19 measures "including considering more stringent testing requirements for international travel".

The official said no final decisions had been made.

On Tuesday, the CDC advised Americans against travel to Niger, Papua New Guinea, Poland and Trinidad and Tobago, citing Covid-19 concerns.

The CDC now lists about 80 foreign destinations as having level four, the highest level, of Covid-19 transmission and discourages Americans from travelling there.

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