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Proof of a Negative Test is now Required for all Traveling to the US

By: Ellina Koo

Did you hear about the new travel policy that was recently announced for international travelers coming to the US or US citizens returning from international travel? While there have been travel restrictions, they have, in many cases, been relatively relaxed. That all changed just a few short weeks ago when the CDC announced that they will be enforcing a travel policy that requires all travelers, whether or not they are US citizens, to provide a negative Covid test before boarding a US bound plane. 

From now on, travelers coming from other countries will all be required to show evidence of a negative test before embarking on their flight. If a passenger doesn’t have clear proof of a negative result, they would not be able to come to the US. This is in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, especially the new variants found in other countries and beginning to spread here. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the policy would take effect on January 26th. The organization hoped that the new testing requirement would decrease the spread of the virus as vaccine distribution continues. 

One of the main reasons why the United States has such a high amount of cases is due to the fact that lots of people tend to travel to other places without following the prescribed precautions, so enforcing travel restrictions will hopefully help mediate this. “Testing does not eliminate all risk,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement, “but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.” So, although testing is not a solution to stopping Covid rates from increasing, the number of cases would most likely decrease after enforcing this new policy.

There are two types of tests that are required to travel. The first is called a Molecular test, or a PCR test. These tests search for segments of the virus’s genetic material in patients. PCR tests can carry a hefty price tag, and because they require samples to be routed through laboratories, it might take a few days to get results. The second test is called an antigen test. These are antibody tests, which can determine whether someone was infected with a virus in the past. It looks for pieces of Covid proteins or antigens still in one’s body. This is less accurate than molecular tests, but these antigen tests can be done more quickly. In order to secure safe travel, in most cases, experts recommend a PCR test to maximize accuracy and ensure that the results are precise.

With these new precautions in place and increased distribution of the vaccine, hopefully, this pandemic will be able to come to an end in the near future, and we can get back to the lives that we were living in a pre-Covid world. 

Photo courtesy of Getty images.