It’s common knowledge that a person’s vulnerability to contacting the COVID-19 increases due to the number of people he may come in contact with. When it comes to travel, coming into close quarters with fellow travelers while standing in queues, boarding flights and during the journey are unavoidable, just as much as touching commonly used surfaces. That’s why getting tested before and after your travel along with measures such as social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands frequently, are crucial to keeping you safe. It is important to know how to protect yourself, and which tests are needed and what other requirements need to be met before international travel, to and from the U.S. 

Traveling to the US:

The United States government requires you to get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your flight back to the US. A viral test looks for current infection and checks specimens from your nose or your mouth to find out if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Two types of viral tests can be used:

  • Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) or more specifically RT- PCR and Rapid Molecular tests detect the virus’s genetic material. RT-PCR is the most commonly used in laboratories and is the most accurate test. However, sometimes this test takes longer to process than the others. Read our blog to know when to get tested before flying.
  • Antigen tests detect viral proteins and are generally not as sensitive as NAATs. If you have a positive or negative antigen test, your healthcare provider may need to confirm the test result with a NAAT. Tests like the Rapid Antigen Test are the most commonly used at airports and other testing sites due to its turnaround time of about 15 minutes. However, to be more impervious to the virus, the RT-PCR test would be recommended.

Travelling from the US:

It is vital to check the respective guidelines of the country you wish to travel to as they may all differ. Check if your airline requires any health information, testing, or other documents. Some destinations require testing before travel and/or after arrival. However, for your safety, it is highly recommended that irrespective of the guidelines, you get yourself tested to limit the spread of the virus. Do not travel if your test results are positive. If your results are negative, it could mean that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing, or that your sample was collected too early on in the infection. You could still pass on the virus to other people or be an asymptomatic carrier. Therefore, it is better to get tested before and after your trip.

With either test, the U.S. requires you to have printed or electronic proof of a negative result from a medical laboratory. We at Buckhead Medicine provide all of the above COVID-19 tests required by the U.S. government before travel in Atlanta, Georgia.

Post-travel if you get tested for COVID-19, it is recommended that you stay at home, or isolate for at least 7 days as recommended by the CDC. If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not. If you are eligible, get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Wait 2 weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel as it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. Read our blog to get some insight into the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

Airports all over the world have been doing their best to maintain all the necessary safety guidelines. However, with the increase in the number of flights, there is only so much they can do. It would be advised to limit travelling on a whole, unless absolutely necessary. Read our blog or follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more insightful posts and facts.