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CDC Advises International Travelers to Test Three Times for COVID-19



The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week issued advice to the public against traveling, even to visit friends and family, during the Thanksgiving holiday period this year. Amid the rising tide of new COVID-19 infections in America, health experts are seriously concerned that a wave of celebratory gatherings will serve to further spread the virus around different areas of the country.

This season’s viral surge is not occurring in isolation within the U.S. and the CDC also released new guidance over this past weekend aimed at those who intend on traveling internationally. The agency recommends that Americans who are headed abroad get tested for COVID-19 at three separate stages along the course of their travel journey, reported Travel + Leisure.

In alignment with many countries’ pre-travel testing requirements, travelers should take an approved COVID-19 test (typically a PCR-type test) one to three days prior to their departure. It also warns against traveling prior to receiving your results from this initial test. It says that travelers should get tested a second time between one and three days prior to their return to the U.S., and again, a third time, three to five days after coming home.

It’s also urging returned international travelers to isolate at home and monitor themselves for symptoms for a full seven days after they get back, even if they’ve tested negative; or, for 14 days if they decline to get tested upon their repatriation. The agency reminds us that infected individuals may feel well and not display any symptoms, but can still be contagious and spread the virus to others.

The CDC also reminds Americans that, while testing before and after our travels can reduce our chance of spreading the virus, testing does not eliminate all risk associate with travel. A negative test does not necessarily mean that you’ve not been exposed, won’t be exposed in the course of your travels or won’t later develop COVID-19.

“Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Social distancing is difficult in busy airports and on crowded flights, and…may increase your risk of getting COVID-19,” the CDC’s advisory reads.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that every U.S. state and even separate jurisdictions within the states may have different requirements relating to travelers and returning residents. You should always check state and local guidelines regarding inbound travel, and adhere to any testing or quarantine restrictions. The CDC even offers a convenient online Travel Planner tool to help inform travelers.

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