Omicron: What COVID-19 tests do I need if I travel abroad?

Omicron: What COVID-19 tests do I need if I travel abroad?

Written by Adonis Hakk

December 30, 2021

On November 26, 2021, on the recommendation of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution, WHO recognized the variety B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, dubbed Omicron (TAG-VE). This determination was made based on information submitted to the TAG-VE suggesting Omicron has various alterations that may affect its behaviour, such as how easy it spreads or the degree of sickness it causes.

Researchers in South Africa and elsewhere are undertaking research to understand several facets of Omicron and will continue to publish their results as they become available. It is unknown if Omicron is more transmissible than other variations, including Delta. Although the frequency of positive tests has increased in regions of South Africa impacted by this variation, epidemiologic studies are planned to determine if this is due to Omicron or other causes.


 It is unknown if infection with Omicron produces more severe disease than infections with other forms, such as Delta. Although preliminary statistics indicate that hospitalization rates are growing in South Africa, this might be attributable to an increase in the available number of persons being sick rather than to a particular infection with Omicron. At the moment, there is no evidence that the symptoms related to Omicron are distinct from those associated with other variations. The first infections were recorded among university students, younger persons who typically have a milder disease but determining the severity of the Omicron variety would take days to perhaps weeks. All COVID-19 variations, including the prevalent Delta variant, may cause severe sickness or death, particularly in the most susceptible populations, so prevention is always critical.

Vaccine Effectiveness

WHO is collaborating with technical partners to assess the possible impact of this variation on current countermeasures, such as vaccinations. Vaccines are crucial for lowering severe illness and mortality, notably those caused by the significant circulating variation, Delta. Current vaccinations continue to be effective against severe illness and death.

Effectiveness of Existing Testing

As with previous variations, the commonly used PCR tests continue to identify infection, including infection with Omicron. Other kinds of testing, including quick antigen detection tests, are being studied to discover any effect. Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will continue to be helpful in treating individuals with severe COVID-19. Other therapies will be evaluated to see whether they are still effective in light of the virus’s modifications in the Omicron form.

COVID-19 tests needed to travel abroad

The rapid antigen test is the most often requested test when it comes to travel. Medical certificates or successful completion of Fit-to-Fly tests and Fit-to-Travel health paperwork are required in many countries, including the United States, to protect passengers from becoming ill while activities and economies gradually restart. Travelers may use these documents to demonstrate that they passed a COVID-19 test administered by a physician before flying. If you are traveling, you must take the COVID-19 test between 72 and 96 hours before departure, depending on the airline and location. Please bear in mind that restrictions are subject to change depending on local conditions. As a consequence, it would be advantageous if you often returned for updates as your departure date drew near. Additionally, a self-swab day 2 test is provided, as are COVID-19 Post-Travel Testing on days 2 and 8 and COVID-19 Pre-Travel Testing on the first day of travel.

Are you looking for a testing provider?

Harley Medic Global is a government-approved testing provider and an expert in COVID-19 testing. They have many locations across the UK, ensuring that a testing centre is near you. Getting a test is as easy as booking online and finding their closest clinic. Visit their website to learn more.

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