On Saturday, November 21, CDC revised the Travel Health Notice system for COVID-19 and released new recommendations for testing before and after international air travel to help the public make informed decisions for safer, healthier, and more responsible travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CDC’s Travel Health Notices inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues in destinations around the world. For most diseases, the Travel Health Notices have 3 levels. This new 4-level travel health notice system is specific to COVID-19 and details the level of COVID-19 in international destinations and U.S. territories. The COVID-19 Travel Health Notices now indicate low, moderate, high, and very high levels of COVID-19 for each destination and are based primarily on incidence rate (or new case counts in destinations with populations of 200,000 or less) and trajectory of new cases (whether new cases over the past 28 days are increasing, decreasing, or stable). CDC has and will continue to review data daily to ensure travelers have the most up-to-date information to inform their decisions.
CDC has also released new travel and testing recommendations for international air travelers based on the best public health advice available. CDC now recommends that international air travelers get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before their flight to reduce spread during travel. Travelers should get tested 3-5 days after travel and stay home for 7 days. If the test is negative, the traveler should stay home for the full 7 days. If a traveler does not get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 14 days. These new recommendations are important steps in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
While testing does not eliminate all risk, when combined with a period of staying home and everyday precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing, it can make travel safer by reducing spread during travel.
If Americans choose to travel abroad, they should plan ahead: in addition to getting tested, they should take steps to limit exposures and avoid higher-risk activities for 14 days before traveling. Travelers should delay travel if they are sick with symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive for COVID-19, have been around a person with COVID-19, or are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 viral test.
Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention