Do I Need a COVID-19 Test to Fly Back to the US?

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An Official U. Government Website Here's How You Know Using Official Websites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently rescinded the order requiring airline passengers arriving in the United States to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or take a test before traveling. This decision was made due to the high efficacy of the available vaccines, effective treatments, and a high rate of immunity induced by both vaccines and infections, which have helped reduce the risk of serious illness and death in the US. But even though the testing requirement has been lifted, it is still recommended that travelers boarding a flight to the US have a viral test within three days of travel and not travel if they are feeling sick.

The CDC also recommends getting tested three to five days after your flight in case you contract the virus while traveling.

Should I Take a COVID-19 Test Before Flying?

Knowing your COVID status can help you decide if it's safe to travel or if you should delay your flight, says Gronvall. For tourists, it can reduce the chance that you will feel sick during your vacation and prevent other passengers from contracting COVID in transit. “It's especially important if you're at risk of serious illness due to age or underlying health conditions,” he adds. It's probably best to take a few quick antigen tests with you on your trip. If possible, choose the tests you've used before to minimize confusion and stress while you're away.

And keep the evidence in their original packaging, even if that means you have to discard other items from your suitcase, to make sure you have all the components and instructions.

What If I Test Positive While Abroad?

If you test positive while you're at your destination, you'll need to self-isolate and postpone your return to the US until it's safe to travel, says CDC spokeswoman Jasmine Reed. Your travel companions may also need to quarantine. Follow all COVID recommendations and requirements at your local destination. Make sure you can access healthcare while you're abroad. Talk to your doctor before your trip to ask how to communicate if your test is positive while you are out of the country.

And make sure you have health insurance that covers care if you need a doctor's visit, medication, or hospitalization if you get COVID-19 abroad.

What About Taking Medication Abroad?

You may have heard that there is a medication that can help reduce your risk of progressing to a serious illness if you contract COVID-19 and you may wonder if you should carry it in your travel bag. Reasonable, vice president of infectious diseases at Mayo Clinic, advises against it. On the one hand, says Reasonable, according to the drug's EUA, it can only be prescribed based on a positive viral test.

Paxlovid can have negative interactions with dozens of medications, including vitamins and supplements. Patients taking it should work with their doctor or pharmacist to decide if they can stop taking certain medications or reduce doses during the five days of treatment of the medication.

What Other Precautions Should I Take?

McQuillen also reminds people to wear masks on any trip and to wear them in closed public places, such as airports, to avoid getting sick while traveling. And make sure you've received the full dose of the vaccine and at least one booster dose, he says.

At land borders they are not required to test negative for COVID-19, although they must show proof of vaccination. Airline and tourism groups have been lobbying the administration for months to remove the testing requirement, saying it discourages people from booking international travel because they could be stranded abroad if they contract the virus on their trip. It is important for travelers heading back into the US from abroad to take all necessary precautions when planning their trip. Knowing your COVID status before boarding a flight is essential for making sure that both yourself and other passengers remain safe during transit.

It is also important for travelers heading abroad to make sure they have access to healthcare while away from home as well as health insurance that covers care if they contract COVID-19 while abroad.

Léa Payamps
Léa Payamps

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