New travel testing for Canadians and other nationalities.
Tamara Al-Ghadahnfari. S@Y News.
Like the rest of the world, the U.S is taking steps to protect its citizens from Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant. Today the U.S president Joe Biden announced a new plan to curb its spread among Americans.
“Experts say that COVID-19 cases will continue to rise in the weeks ahead this winter, so we need to be ready,” Biden said on Thursday.
Biden’s plans include a call for all eligible adults to get their booster shots. In November, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced the expansion of booster shot eligibility to include everyone 18 years old or older.
“More than about 100 million are eligible for boosters but haven’t gotten a booster shot yet,” Biden said. “Starting today, we are making it easier than ever.”
This plan also has a targeted approach for seniors who are 65 and older to get the booster. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is launching an education and outreach initiative to help get booster shots for seniors.
In addition to boosters, Biden also urged people to get vaccinated, including the newly approved age group 5- 11 years old. Biden announced that there would be hundreds of family clinics to make getting the vaccine easier for the families and their children.
Another part of the plan is to make home testing available and covered through insurance companies for those who have coverage; as for those not covered, the testing will be available through community sites, such as health centers and rural clinics.
Biden also announced a new testing requirement for foreign travelers. They have to provide a negative COVID test one day prior to their departure to the U.S regardless of their nationality or vaccination status. The announcement didn’t clarify if that will include land crossing between Canada and the U.S. Currently, Canadians traveling by air to the U.S has to provide a negative COVID test 72 hour before departure and travelers crossing the border don’t have to provide such a test. Currently, Canada doesn’t require Americans to provide a COVID test when entering Canada.
The Biden administration plan didn’t include imposing any lockdowns or expansion of or add to federal vaccine mandates for companies.
“We’re going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion,” Biden said.
Three cases of Omicron have been discovered in the U.S so far. The first is in California, a second in Minnesota, and the third case in Colorado. All three cases are among fully or partially vaccinated individuals. They have mild symptoms, and their cases are related to travel.
On Monday, the U.S travel ban for eight African counties went into effect, joining a growing list of countries that announced a similar ban. The travel ban is in response to the Omicron variant first identified in South Africa in November this year.