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The Biden administration is considering requiring more stringent coronavirus testing for everyone traveling to the United States



Officials are weighing potential changes Tuesday night and no final decision has been made, but an announcement could be made as soon as this week. Currently, vaccinated travelers must check in three days before departure. The move under consideration will shorten that time to one day.

Mandatory quarantine for returning US citizens was not considered, according to a White House official.

“The Administration continues to evaluate appropriate measures to protect the American people from COVID-19, particularly as we learn more about the Omicron variant, including looking at more stringent testing requirements for with international travel. Policy discussions are ongoing throughout the government and no final decision has been made yet,” a White House official told CNN.

The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Rochelle Walensky, told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the CDC is “evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible, including including pre-departure checks near the time of flight and considerations around additional post-arrival checks and self-quarantine.”

Walensky also said the CDC is expanding surveillance at four major international airports to track travelers’ Omicron variants.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, US surgeon general, said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Tuesday night that “CDC is looking at a number of measures right now. It hasn’t fully decided on what yet. it is working on, but I believe some of the measures it looks at will have a significant impact on our ability to detect the virus before it gets here.”

On Monday, USA ban all travel from South Africa and seven neighboring countries, with the exception of US citizens and lawful permanent residents, who must have tested negative to enter the United States but not once they have arrived.

Asked on Tuesday how long the current travel restrictions will remain in place, President Joe Biden said, “Well, that depends.”

“This happens every week to determine what we need and what the status of the job is. We’ll learn a lot more over the next few weeks about the lethality of this virus, about how contagious it is, about whether or not we can control it, etc,” he continued.

On Thursday, Biden is expected to announce a federal strategy to tackle Covid-19 this winter. The president said the new strategy will focus “not with decommissioning or decommissioning, but with broader vaccinations, boosters, testing and more.”

So far, the Biden administration has indicated that further restrictions on travel are not anticipated.

Research on the new variant – including on its severity, transmissibility, and detectability – is rapidly evolving.

On Monday, Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, said on CNN’s “The Lead” that while Covid-19 PCR detection tests and some rapid antigen tests can detect the new variant, it remains unclear whether all rapid tests can detect it. But Jeff Zient, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, confirmed on Tuesday that the FDA believes “high volume PCR and rapid antigen tests widely used in the United States will be effective in detect variations.”
There are anecdotal reports suggesting that most cases of Omicron variant Covid-19 have been mild so far. But scientists say it will take weeks to know how dangerous the new variant is.
The Omicron variant has yet to be detected in the United States. However, public health and government officials have many times stressed that current travel restrictions for countries in southern Africa will not necessarily prevent the arrival of this variant to the United States. Instead, they will give the country some time to prepare for that.

“(T)restricting ravel can slow Omicron’s speed, it can’t stop it,” the president said Monday. “But here’s what it does: It gives us time. It gives us time to take more action, to do it faster, to make sure people understand that you have to get vaccinated.”

This story was updated with additional details on Tuesday.

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