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FACT FINDERS: The role of travel restrictions amid omicron

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:47 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Now that the COVID variant Omicron is confirmed in the U.S., questions are arising around the role of the travel ban. This as new details are emerging about a new travel requirement government leaders are now considering.

Dr. Joe Gerald, Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Arizona, says the way the U.S. is implementing travel restrictions is a controversial topic. The CDC says travelers from the following countries are prohibited from entry into the U.S. right now: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

However, it says these travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents of the U.S., certain family members, and others who may meet certain exceptions. They are still allowed to go to these countries and return. So, Dr. Gerald says the point of the travel restriction is not to stop the virus but basically buy time.

”If we think about the role of travel bans in combatting this potential new variant they will only slow and not prevent the spread,” he said.

Dr. Gerald also said to make the travel restrictions more effective he thinks we should also be doing testing, quarantining, and isolation. That, could be on the way at least when it comes to testing. We are learning government officials are considering stricter required COVID testing for everyone who enters the U.S. the day before their flight and then again when they return home. This would be for all travelers including U.S. citizens and those who are vaccinated. No final decision has been made.

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