To Steer Clear of Omicron Surge, UK, US Bring in New Testing Rules for Inbound Travellers

As Omicron is fast jumping continents, countries have reintroduced stringent Covid-19 rules for inbound travelers, causing an impact on aviation and tourism. While inbound international travelers t US must test within one day of departure — regardless of vaccination status or nationality, Britain’s government too tightened travel restrictions.

The US President on Friday had announced the fresh guidelines and these rules will take effect Monday onwards. “I’m announcing today that all inbound international travelers must test within one day of departure — regardless of vaccination status or nationality. This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of protection as scientists continue to study the Omicron variant,” his tweet read.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “all air travellers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, will be required to show a negative pre-departure Covid-19 viral test taken the day before they board their flight to the United States.”

New York announced three more cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the number of state cases linked to the new variant to eight. The omicron variant is here, and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning of community spread,” state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a news release.

The number of states finding the variant is growing as well, with authorities in New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland reporting their first confirmed cases Friday, and Missouri reporting its first presumed case. The variant also has been detected in Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Colorado and Utah.

Meanwhile, all travelers arriving in England will need to take a COVID-19 test before they board their flight. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new rules will apply from 4 a.m. London time Tuesday. In light of the most recent data, we are taking further action to slow the incursion of the omicron variant,” he said in a tweet.

Javid also added Nigeria to the U.K.’s travel red list,” which means that arrivals from there will be banned except for U.K. and Irish residents, and those travellers must isolate in designated quarantine facilities. He said there was a significant number of omicron cases linked to travel with Nigeria, with 27 cases recorded in England.

Karen Dee, the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the new measures will be a major deterrent to travel, just as airports and the travel industry were hoping for a small uplift over the festive season. “This is a devastating blow for aviation and tourism,” she said

Authorities recorded another 42,848 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.K. as of Saturday, with 127 more deaths. With over 145,000 COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic, Britain has the second-highest virus death toll in Europe after Russia.

Japan announced that it will add India, Greece, Romania and four US states under strict quarantine vigilance. Japanese nationals and foreign residents travelling to Japan from India, Greece, Romania and four US states are required to undergo stringent quarantine regulations Sunday onwards, in order to control the spread of the Omicron variant, reported Kyodo news.

Meanwhile, the state government of South Australia (SA) has imposed further border restrictions amid concerns about the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Premier Steven Marshall on Saturday announced that SA’s borders will remain open to domestic travellers but those from the Covid-hit Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria must have a coronavirus test on arrival and isolate until it comes back negative.

They will also be required to have a second test on day six if they are still in SA, Xinhua news agency reported.

India has so far confirmed four cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the country.

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