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Considering the Omicron variant's high rate of transmission, this appears to be a symbolic extra layer of protection more than anything.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has started distributing free Covid-19 home test kits to international travelers, the agency said on Thursday.

The CDC said it began distributing the kits on Wednesday and is giving them out at Minneapolis-St Paul, Miami and Chicago O’Hare and will soon add Dallas-Fort Worth. It plans to add four additional unidentified international airports in the coming weeks.

The CDC encourages — but does not mandate — international air travelers to get a new Covid-19 test upon arriving in the U.S.

New rules took effect on Dec. 6 to require nearly all people flying to the U.S. to obtain a negative Covid-19 test within one day of travel.

Under the prior rules, vaccinated international air travelers could present a negative test result obtained within three days of their day of departure. Unvaccinated travelers had to get a negative Covid-19 test within one day of departure. The tighter testing timeline “provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant,” the White House said.

On Nov. 29, the White House barred nearly all foreign nationals from entering the U.S. from eight southern African countries over fears of the spread of the Omicron variant. But it has not extended those travel restrictions to other countries where the new variant has been discovered.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Franklin Paul and Dan Grebler)

This article was written by David Shepardson from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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Tags: cdc, Chicago O'Hare, coronavirus, covid-19, dallas/fort worth international airport, miami international airport, minneapolis, usa

Photo credit: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has started distributing free Covid-19 home test kits to international travelers arriving at Chicago O'Hare Airport. Thomas Hawk / Flickr

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