The U.S. has no travel restrictions for international travel despite the fears of a new COVID variant. Even so, the U.S. government and other countries are always looking for potential cases through its border officials.
If you display COVID-19 symptoms at any point of entry, the health officials may request you to undergo further testing. Unfortunately, testing and a potential self-quarantine may significantly cause delays in your travel plans.
With that in mind, making travel plans while fully aware of your COVID-19 status is advisable. If you want to travel abroad, consider using qualified and board-certified physicians from a reputable urgent care center to check your COVID-19 status.
Previous COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in the U.S
Here is a series of past COVID-19 restrictions:
A Negative COVID-19 Test
On January 12, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the country.
Requirements for Travellers Arriving from the People’s Republic of China
Although rescinded, the order required a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 for air passengers traveling to the United States from the People’s Republic of China.
Wearing of Face Masks
On January 29, 2021, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order requiring people to wear masks on public transport means and premises of public transport hubs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in the People’s Republic of China
Although the U.S. rescinded the order that required non-U.S. citizen nonimmigrants to present a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination, China has the following COVID-19 entry requirements:
- You will need to show a negative COVID-19 test, which can be a PCR or antigen test
- There’s also health screening at airports by recording the temperatures of incoming passengers.
COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in Brazil
Although Brazil has an impressive vaccination status with up to 513, 329,718 doses administered, the country has the following COVID-19 travel requirements:
- Show proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination
- Evidence of a negative COVID-19 test if you’re not fully vaccinated
COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in Bolivia
Bolivia is open to incomings from all countries; however, visitors must show either:
- Proof of full vaccination
- A negative PCR tests within 72 hours if not fully vaccinated
- Proof of negative antigen test within 48 hours
COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in Philippines
While the Philippines is open to all travelers, it has the following restrictions:
- All arrivals in the Philippines must present a negative COVID-19 test no older than 24 hours and proof of vaccination.
- Fully vaccinated arrivals are exempt from testing requirements.
- You may also need a face mask in some public spaces
Previous COVID-19 Restrictions in Canada
Although they are no longer in effect, travelers entering Canada by air, land, or marine were required to fulfill the following COVID-19 requirements:
- Show proof of COVID-19 requirements
- Undertake pre-board testing
- Quarantine after entering Canada
- Undertake COVID-19 pre-entry and arrival tests
- Wear a well-constructed and fitted mask or respirator while traveling on a plane or train
- A pre-boarding test for cruise passengers
While the above requirements are no longer in effect, the following COVID-19 restrictions still apply:
1. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you shouldn’t travel to Canada
2. If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms or feel sick during your travel to Canada or upon arrival, you should:
- Avoid using public transport.
- Check territorial requirements on what to do if you’re symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Upon arrival, inform the flight crew, cruise steward, or border official, who may refer you to a quarantine officer for further guidance.
Previous COVID-19 Restrictions in New Zealand
New Zealand boasts of a 99 percent containment of the COVID-19 outbreak. It has also recorded a 97 percent vaccination rate, with 12,252,378 doses already administered.
Here’s a list of previous COVID-19 restrictions that are no longer in effect:
- All travelers arriving in the country, including aircrew, must show proof of vaccination
- If not fully vaccinated, travelers should have a negative PCR test or antigen test
- To get into New Zealand, travelers need a pre-departure test
- While traveling in New Zealand, you should try to observe physical distance in busy airports or transport hubs
- Wearing of face masks is mandatory in public places
The following COVID-19 restrictions are still in place:
- Wearing masks in healthcare and aged settings
- If you test positive for COVID, you’ll be required to isolate for seven days after symptoms begin
- Some airlines have mandatory pre-departure PCR COVID-19 test
Note: If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay there until you test negative. Fortunately, you can seek treatment in health facilities available in New Zealand.
Previous COVID-19 Restrictions in Italy
As the Ministry of Health in Italy tried to contain approximately 30 million COVID-19 infections, it issued the following restrictions:
- Travelers must show proof of complete vaccination.
- If not fully vaccinated, they should have a negative PCR test within 72 hours or a negative antigen test in the last 48 hours.
- Visitors must wear masks at all times when using public transport.
Despite lifting the above restrictions, the Italian Ministry of Health may require you to stay where you are until you test negative.
New COVID Numbers in U.S
- Hospitalizations: According to the latest update from the CDC, the United States has recorded 18,871 hospital admissions on the week ending September 2, 2023, an 8.7% increase.
- Deaths: Total deaths have also risen by 2%, bringing the total COVID-19 deaths to 1,140,278.
- Vaccination Status: Approximately 81.4% of the U.S. population 270,227,181 have received at least one dose. In addition, 152,508,460 people have received the bivalent vaccine—booster dose.
COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus.
People with COVID-19 display different symptoms ranging from mild to severe illness. The COVID-19 symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure. The incubation period is the window after exposure and display of signs.
Nonetheless, you can transmit symptoms during the incubation period through pre-symptomatic transmission.
The possible symptoms include:
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Vomiting and Nausea
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Fever and Chills
- Pink Eye
- Muscle aches
Some people experience worsened symptoms, including pneumonia or shortness of breath, a week into the infection. In other cases, infected individuals have no symptoms but can spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a condition known as asymptomatic transmission.
Some people experience COVID-19 symptoms for more than four weeks after infection, a health problem called post-COVID-19 condition.
When to Visit an Urgent Care Center
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person, contact a healthcare provider immediately for medical advice.
A physician will highly recommend you get tested for COVID-19.
More importantly, look out for emergency symptoms and seek care immediately:
Here are the common emergency symptoms:
- New confusion
- Trouble breathing
- Inability to wake up or stay awake
- Blue-colored, pale, or gray skin, lips, or nails, depending on your skin tone
- Constant pain or pressure on the chest
How to Get Tested For COVID-19
There are a variety of tests that can detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. Viral tests like molecular and antigen tests check a current COVID-19 infection. An antibody test looks for a previous COVID-19 infection.
Molecular Test for COVID-19
A molecular test, called nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), checks a current COVID-19 infection. It applies specific probes to detect the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
According to numerous studies, the molecular tests recorded a 96% accuracy in detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A molecular test is, therefore, the ‘gold’ standard of testing a COVID-19 infection since its authorization in 2020.
In some testing facilities, you can receive molecular test results within 15-45 minutes. However, it may take up to 3 days if a physician sends the samples to an external laboratory.
Due to the high accuracy of molecular tests, a positive outcome is enough to detect a COVID-19 infection. Even so, you can get a false negative in molecular tests for the following reasons:
- Testing Too Early: It takes up to five days for the virus’s genetic material to build up to detectable levels. You’re likely to get a false negative if you take a COVID-19 test within the window.
- Testing Too Late: The viral genetic material declines in the upper respiratory tract after one week. If you test too late after the infection, you will likely get a false negative.
An antigen test works by checking for particular viral markers called antigens. If there are SARS-CoV-2 viruses, the antibodies in the antigen test will bind them, producing a positive result.
The antigen test uses a sample collected by a nasal swab to perform the exam. Antigen tests or rapid tests produce results in 15-30 minutes. A positive antigen result is very accurate and reliable.
However, an antigen test is less likely to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus than a molecular test, especially when you don’t have symptoms.
Therefore, a single antigen test cannot rule out an infection.
FDA recommends the following steps to be sure you don’t have COVID-19:
- Two antigen tests for individuals without symptoms done 48 hours apart
- Three antigen tests for those without symptoms done 48 hours apart
- A single PCR test to confirm a negative antigen result
Antibody Test for COVID-19
The antibody test is a blood test that provides information about how the body reacts after an SARS-CoV-2 infection. It can also tell you how the body responded to a COVID-19 vaccine. Antibody testing is also called serology testing.
A negative serology result means the test did not detect antibodies in your bloodstream.
It takes 1-3 weeks for the body to start producing antibodies. Because of the delay in the production of antibodies, and unlike the PCR or antigen test, an antibody test can diagnose a current COVID-19 infection.
Here’s when you can expect results:
You can get results within the same day for some point-of-care centers. However, it may take up to three days if the healthcare provider sends the sample to an external lab for analysis.
Critical Times to Get Tested
- Test immediately if you have symptoms.
- If you don’t have symptoms but are exposed to COVID-19, wait until 5 days after your exposure before taking a test.
- You may also need to get tested before an event, travel, or visiting someone at a high risk. Test as close as possible to the day of the trip or event to make an informed choice about your health and the risk of spreading to others.
What Happens if You Test Positive
If your result is positive, the test detected the virus, and you’ve had a recent infection.
Take the following steps:
- Isolate and take precautions, including wearing a mask or a respirator to protect you and those around you from getting infected.
- Tell people you’ve recently had contact with that they may be at risk of infection.
- Monitor your symptoms; if you develop emergency symptoms, seek emergency care immediately.
- Visit an urgent care center to learn about your treatment options— start the treatment within the first few days to enhance efficiency.
Make an Informed Plan With a COVID-19 Test For International Travel
If you recently had contact with an infected person, symptoms could show up anytime, including at the entry point of a foreign country. Unfortunately, you’ll likely be required to undergo further testing, which may disrupt your holiday, business meeting, or appointment.
To that end, consider testing in advance from a trusted urgent care center to help you make an informed travel decision.
Newport Urgent Care & Occupational Care has a well-equipped laboratory and highly qualified physicians ready to administer a COVID-19 test for international travel.