What To Know About Coronavirus Testing Before Travel
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The best protection from COVID-19 is simply to avoid exposure, which is guaranteed if one stays home as much as possible. However, travel by airplane is still possible. Many students are eager to board essential flights to join college after labor day holiday weekend. They are booking tickets, packing their bags and boarding airplanes. 

One doesn't need a hazmat suit, N95 Face shield, or a coronavirus vaccine. Using hand sanitizer and regular cloth face masks that cover your nose and mouth will suffice to keep you safe.

Airlines and airports have regular cleaning procedures and disinfection protocols in place for wiping down frequently touched surfaces and spraying sterilizers. They are using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to keep cabin air safe.

Airlines avoid overcrowded flights and follow social distancing guidelines by keeping middle row seats in aircraft empty during flights. Airlines require passengers to wear face coverings.

It is a good idea to arrive at your terminal a couple of hours ahead of schedule. Baggage screening by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Employees and Immigration checks by the Department of Homeland Security may also take longer.

Passengers traveling from high-risk areas are required to answer screening questions. Airline staff also perform temperature checks on passengers before boarding time to detect people ill from COVID-19.

All airline customers have to comply with wearing facemasks to reduce airborne transmission of the virus in the plane regardless of the flight time - a short shuttle flight or a long-distance flight to a destination abroad.

Before you plan your future travel, it's important to know the policies and regulations in place that require coronavirus testing before travel. These travel restrictions vary by flight origin and destination and are intended to help curtail the spread of this disease across the globe.

When it comes to coronavirus testing and traveling, it helps to do a bit of research. After all, the U.S. has barred entry (with specific exceptions) to travelers from China, Iran, the UK, Ireland, and Brazil. Other nations have placed similar restrictions on U.S. citizens and travelers need to comply with different guidelines and mandates.

Most airlines will not issue refunds on your ticket reservations if you failed to meet the guidelines for flying to that destination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes Travel Health Notices regularly on its website. This coronavirus travel advice provides the latest information on disease outbreaks at special events and gatherings in destinations worldwide.

A Level 3 Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice was put into effect on March 27 advising to "Avoid Nonessential Travel" BY the CDC.

Coronavirus Testing Before Travel: What to Expect

Regardless of the mode of transportation or destination, there are a few tasks that should be your top priority to complete before embarking on any trip. With this pandemic, airlines as well as nations require coronavirus testing before air travel. 

During travel, typical items carried in hand baggage include copies of passports, green cards. visas, medications, consent for travel with minors, and international driving permits. It is a good idea to make sure all your routine vaccinations are up to date before your planned flight. This is especially before long-distance travel or journeys to exotic places like Africa where you may interact with wildlife.

In addition, make sure to get all travel vaccines done such as typhoid, Hepatitis A, yellow fever, and seasonal flu shots. Also, during this pandemic, some states, territories, and countries are requiring proof of negative coronavirus tests as an entry requirement. 

For certain regions, this is required even if a coronavirus test isn't needed to board the flight there. Often, there is a limited time period for which the test results are valid, and more measures may be taken as precautions.

For example, Hawaii's entry requirement for travelers is mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. If contact isolation is violated, travelers face a hefty $5,000 fine and/or year imprisonment.

Starting October 1, visitors arriving in Hawaii will need to show proof of a negative Coronavirus Nucleic Acid Amplification Test within 72 hours of departure. Hawaii will not be offering any testing to passengers arriving at their airport terminals. So travelers must complete the screening process and get tested before boarding the flight.

If you're traveling to Alaska you must arrive with a negative coronavirus test. You can also provide proof of a pending test result from a test taken within the last 72 hours.

Additionally, you'll be asked to quarantine until your test results are received. Otherwise, testing is available to non-resident travelers for $250. 

Other countries are more stringent in their restrictions. For example, Americans who are traveling to Hong Kong are required to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test. These PCR or serology tests must be within 72 hours of their scheduled time of departure. Visitors must provide confirmation of hotel reservations for at least 14 days starting on the day they arrive.

Additionally, travelers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport will be tested and must wait for the results at a designated location. Travelers who test positive will be quarantined.

Types of Coronavirus Tests

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval for several coronavirus screening tests. These include nasal swabs, blood sample tests, and saliva tests that identify the genetic material of the novel coronavirus.

There are two types of tests - one helps diagnose a new infection and the other checks for recovery from it. Diagnostic tests indicate the presence of active coronavirus infection. There are two types of diagnostic testing that detects SARS-CoV-2 infection - antigen tests and molecular tests.

Molecular tests detect this virus' genetic material, and antigen tests detect proteins on the virus' surface. Antibody tests detect antibodies produced by the immune system in response to a threat. When an antibody test result for COVID-19 is positive, it means you have had a recent infection and recovered from it.

Antibody tests can't diagnose active infections because the immune response to develop antibodies takes a few weeks after recovery from an infection. Currently, there are no tests available that detect the neutralizing type of antibodies. These specific antibodies are directed against the spike protein of the coronavirus and are considered protective enough to be given as plasma donation to patients.

The test accuracy is in the mid to high nineties. And all negative test results are usually confirmed by a specimen sent to the lab for confirmation as false-negative test results are seen.

Where Can You Get Tested?

When it comes to finding somewhere to be tested, you can use an online test site locator before you travel. 

We recommend ArcGIS. This was created by GISCorps for the general public. The locator only includes COVID-19 testing sites that are currently operational. It also shows what types of tests are offered at each testing location near you.

This includes molecular (often referred to as PCR) tests, antibody (also known as serology) tests, molecular and antibody, antibody and antigen, and more.

The locator also shows sites where only screening is offered. For convenience, you should find an urgent care clinic near you. Statcare Urgent & Walk-In Medical in NYC offers all 3 types of Coronavirus tests, 7 days a week.

Statcare offers USCIS Immigration Medical Exams allowing you to renew your green card while traveling.

Take Advantage of Telehealth Services

Depending on the city or state you're traveling to, testing may be prioritized for people with higher risk factors and symptoms. The availability of testing may vary largely from clinic to clinic in the same area, as a result.

When possible, it's best to make an appointment in advance. If an in-person visit is unavailable or unsafe, telehealth is another option. The World Health Organization (WHO) broadly defines telehealth as the delivery of healthcare services with patients and providers separated by distance.

Primarily, telehealth refers to the use of information and communication technologies for several 'modalities' of telehealth. These include synchronous (via a mobile device), asynchronous (via 'store and forward' technology), and remote-patient monitoring. 

In short, the aim of telehealth is to enable access to high quality, affordable healthcare services from any location.

Who is Telehealth For?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a change in the way healthcare is provided. Many healthcare providers are opting for telehealth visits over in-person visits. This helps avoid person-to-person COVID-19 transmission, conserves PPE, and mitigates overcrowding in emergency rooms, hospitals, and outpatient medical clinics. 

Where in-person visits are unfeasible, those who benefit most from telehealth are those who need:

● Low-risk urgent care (especially for non-COVID-19 medical conditions)

● Preventative, chronic, or routine care (such as monitoring clinical signs like blood pressure or blood glucose)

● Remote healthcare access from rural areas and for populations that are aging or limited in mobility

● Medication management

● Access to primary care providers and specialists

Schedule a telehealth visit to talk to a medical professional. They can provide you with guidance on how to manage your health and prepare for safe airline travel in today's environment.

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