Journey restrictions for omicron variant: What they imply

New US travel ban for omicron variant: What it means for you

Sarah Tew/CNET
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This week a US journey ban went into impact, barring vacationers from eight international locations in southern Africa, the area which first recognized the omicron coronavirus variant. As of Wednesday, the variant has been detected in additional than 20 international locations, together with the US, which has recognized it in California, Minnesota and Colorado (many extra states are anticipated to observe). 

The World Well being Group labeled the omicron coronavirus variant a “variant of concern” on Nov. 24, sparking worries that one other new wave of COVID-19 would possibly land in the course of a travel-filled and close-quartered vacation season. In response to well being specialists’ expectation that the brand new variant will trigger a spike in instances alongside the delta variant, President Joe Biden’s administration introduced a plan Thursday that features tightening journey testing guidelines. Beginning subsequent week, folks coming into the US might want to get examined for COVID-19 inside someday previous to departure. The federal government can be extending masks guidelines for public transportation, together with airplanes and buses, by way of March 18. 

“As a precautionary measure till now we have extra data, I’m ordering further air journey restrictions from South Africa and 7 different international locations,” Biden stated on Nov. 26 when he introduced the journey ban. “As we transfer ahead, we’ll proceed to be guided by what the science and my medical group advises.” On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention requested airways carrying passengers into the US from southern Africa to share passengers’ names and data with the CDC, so state and native public well being companies may very well be conscious. 

Here is what we all know up to now concerning the journey ban. 

Learn extra: Free COVID at-home check equipment: Here is how you may get yours

Which international locations does the journey ban have an effect on? Which international locations have omicron? 

Journey is restricted from eight international locations in southern Africa, the place there are instances of COVID-19 fueled by the brand new variant. South Africa (the nation that first reported the brand new variant to the WHO), Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi are included within the ban. This implies residents or vacationers from these international locations cannot fly into the US if they have been in one of many restricted international locations throughout the final 14 days, in line with Biden’s proclamation. It is a completely different story for US residents although (see the subsequent part).

Omicron has been detected in greater than 20 international locations up to now, together with Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. 

Learn extra: Intelligent COVID booster shot trick: Textual content this quantity without spending a dime rides, straightforward appointments

If Individuals are in a rustic below the journey ban, can they fly again? 

Sure, in line with remarks made by Biden on Friday. US residents and everlasting residents could journey house with a detrimental COVID-19 check.

In accordance with a report by NBC, there are 5 flights per week between Newark and Johannesburg this week by United Airways, in addition to three United Airways flights per week between Dulles, in Washington DC, and Accra, Ghana. United may even restart service between Newark and Cape City on Dec. 1, NBC reported.

On its web site, Delta airways stated it at the moment operates service between Johannesburg and Atlanta 3 times every week with “no deliberate changes to service at the moment.”  

When will the journey ban be lifted? 

It is unknown proper now. When he issued the ban, Biden stated he could be “guided by what the science and my medical group advises.”

Do journey bans work?

Some say the US’ journey restrictions are essential to include omicron, if not too slender. Others have criticized the journey restrictions from south African international locations, saying they unfairly punish a area that shortly recognized a brand new coronavirus variant and shared the information with the worldwide scientific neighborhood. 

“There’s little or no utility of those sorts of bans,” Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute of World Well being, advised NPR, including that the “horse has in all probability left the barn.” 

In the end, monitoring omicron comes right down to our potential to detect particular variants. Fortunately, COVID-19 instances attributable to omicron are simply detected by way of PCR exams, in line with the president’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, however they should be confirmed by way of genomic sequencing. Earlier this 12 months, the CDC was sequencing about 8,000 samples within the US per week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated at a briefing Tuesday. Now the CDC is testing about 80,000 samples per week, she stated — about one in seven samples which check constructive for COVID-19.

The data contained on this article is for academic and informational functions solely and isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. At all times seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you might have a few medical situation or well being targets.

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