The United States (US), in light of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 making its way around the globe, has tightened its travel restrictions to curtail the same, introducing new testing rules for incoming passengers that shall become effective on Monday, 6 December, Reuters reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that functions within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said in a statement that "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."
Noting that the "Omicron variant has been found in 23 countries", the CDC also said that it "may exercise its enforcement discretion to adjust the scope of accepted pre-departure testing requirements to allow passengers and airline and aircraft operators greater flexibility regarding the requirements."
Last week, the Joe Biden government announced that it would prohibit nearly all foreign nationals from travelling to the US from eight southern African countries, restrictions that Dr Anthony Fauci (the Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden) called a "temporary measure."
Jen Psaki, the White House spokesperson, said on Thursday that she would not "expect the lifting of restrictions before we know more about the variant," Reuters added.
US states like Massachusetts and Washington detected their first cases of the Omicron variant on Saturday, 4 December, one day after New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland did the same, Mint reported.
In a statement, New York's Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said that "the omicron variant is here, and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning of community spread."
(With inputs from Reuters and Mint.)