Covid News: U.S. to Tighten Testing for Travelers Amid Omicron Worries

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Despite a Drop in Coronavirus Hospitalizations in Los Angeles County, Omicron Spike Remains a Concern.

International flyers scramble again as US laws tighten.

Concerns about the Omicron strain have prompted the CDC to tighten coronavirus testing procedures and screening of overseas flyers destined for the US.

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A spokesperson said the government is contemplating asking passengers to produce a negative result from a test done within 24 hours of departure.

The likelihood of changes drove tourists scrambling for information, arranging pre-emptive testing where they could, and checking airline websites for adjustments as the epidemic threatened to disrupt another December travel season.

Giritharan Sripathy, who was due to fly from London to New York on Thursday, said it was a pity. Mr. Sripathy said he had planned a fresh fast exam on Wednesday “in case they modify the guidelines tomorrow.”

Mr. Sripathy, a Singaporean film producer, expressed worry that the US would bar non-citizens or permanent residents from entering. For eight months last year, he couldn’t return from a vacation in Singapore to the US, where he works.

“I don’t want that,” he replied.

Researchers in southern Africa discovered Omicron, a highly modified variant of the virus, which has subsequently been found in over a dozen nations worldwide, including Britain.

Experts believe they won’t know enough about it for weeks to gauge how quickly it spreads or evades current vaccinations.

Meanwhile, travel restrictions have been implemented globally, and financial prices have plummeted.

It would tighten the United States’ “already stringent measures” for overseas visitors, including requiring them to be properly vaccinated, according to C.D.C. spokesman Jason McDonald.

The new 24-hour regulation does not specify what sort of fast test was required.

President Biden said he will unveil steps to combat the epidemic on Thursday. The tougher testing criteria for overseas passengers, originally reported by The Washington Post, were not included in his statement. His response provided no timetable.

Mr. McDonald said the C.D.C. still advises all visitors to obtain a coronavirus test three to five days after landing. Even if they test negative, unvaccinated travelers should self-isolate and be quarantined for seven days.

The government is “assessing all of our testings to make sure they’re successful in picking up” the Omicron variant, according to Natalie Quillian, the White House’s deputy coordinator for the Covid response.

A 24-hour testing regulation might make entering the US problematic, some visitors say. Paula Tolton, 23, of Taipei, Taiwan, said the current 72-hour limit was stressful due to test processing delays.

In April, a P.C.R. test didn’t come back, causing her tension. “I was terrified.”

Hispanic-American Carlos Valencia, whose Seville-based firm runs an American study-abroad program, said he would postpone a planned January trip to the US until “there is at least some clarification about whether the new laws make a trip feasible.”

He claimed the changing restrictions had driven his pupils insane and harmed his company, particularly “when you know that versions will keep arriving.”