Omicron: Biden tightens travel rules amid new Omicron cases

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President Joe Biden has unveiled stricter Covid-19 travel rules as the US confirmed a handful of cases of the Omicron variant from coast to coast.

Starting next week, international travelers to the U.S. The U.S., including Americans, will have to be tested for Covid within 24 hours before their departure, regardless of vaccination status. 

Mask requirements for planes, trains, and buses will be extended until mid-March. 

Millions of free, insurer-funded home trials are also offered. 

Ten cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the United States: California, Colorado, Minnesota, and New York, and in Hawaii, where authorities say this person had no recent travel history. 

Government health authorities have reported only mild symptoms in these cases. 

According to reports, the variant has now been found in up to 30 countries. However, it is unclear whether Omicron, a highly mutated variant, is associated with increased transmission or increased risk of vaccine circumvention. 

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U.U. It encourages all adults to get booster vaccines as Covid cases will increase this winter. 

“We’re going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion,” Biden told the Maryland National Institutes of Health.

He reiterated previous assurances that the plan “does not include closures or lockdowns.”

The president said that more than 40 million Americans had received their Covid boosters, but nearly 100 million more are eligible and haven’t had their own yet.

Hundreds of family vaccination clinics are being established to increase vaccination rates among children and adolescents.

Authorities said private insurers would have to reimburse their 150 million customers for Covid tests they bought at home and that 50 million tests would be distributed free of charge to uninsured people through health centers and rural clinics.

However, the reimbursement of tests does not begin until January, when more travel and interlacing occur indoors after the holiday season.

People take Covid-19 tests at a pop-up testing site in New York

The United States and several other countries have banned travel from eight countries in southern Africa. However, health experts have said that travel restrictions will allow them to study the new variant.

On Thursday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said five cases of Omicron had been discovered in her state.

In late November, a man who attended a convention in Manhattan tested positive for the variant, authorities said.

Governor Hochul said one of the cases was a 67-year-old vaccinated woman in Suffolk district who experienced mild cough and headache symptoms. The other four were in New York City.

On Wednesday, a confirmed case in California and Colorado Thursday was found among travelers who had recently returned from South Africa.

An omicron-positive person in Minnesota had recently returned from a three-day anime convention (Japanese cartoons) in New York City.

The person in Hawaii who had not been vaccinated and had been infected with coronavirus in 2020 had no history of current travel. That suggested that community transmission had probably already started there, health officials said.

The Hawaii case had mild to moderate symptoms and was isolated at home.

Return to normal is still far off

With the rise of the Omicron variant, Joe Biden once again takes on the American people with additional measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

However, unlike its last major action, the government’s plan shed light on government mandates, perhaps a reflection of the political firestorm caused by its previous orders and the legal sludge that enveloped them.

Instead, Mr. Biden is pushing for better access to testing and encouraging, but not all, Americans to get vaccinated.

He also specifically mentions keeping schools open and keeping children in classrooms, a reflection of last year’s incandescent anger that arose among some suburban parents who have become an important part of the Democratic voting block.

When Mr. Biden took office earlier this year, he acknowledged that the success of his term would largely depend on his ability to contain the pandemic and bring some semblance of normalcy back to American life.

After some initial positive results, the increase in new variants, along with the hesitation of some vaccines in the U.S. Department of Commerce, diminished these hopes and had an economic and political impact.

Thursday’s measures indicate that Mr. Biden knows that there is still a long way to go back to normal.

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