We’ve received several inquiries about the travel restrictions tied to the new ‘variant of concern’, Omicron. The World Health Organization (WHO) made this variant one of concern last week. This led governments around the globe to reassess how they handle travel to and from those nations with recorded cases of Omicron. Some nations have chosen to close their borders to all foreign nationals. As of this morning, this included Israel, Morocco and Japan. There will likely be other nations added to this list in the coming days.
Other nations have decided to limit entry by foreign nationals from countries that have had confirmed cases of Omicron. This included the U.S. and late last week the U.S. announced that effective today, November 29, travelers from 8 nations - Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi – will be banned from entering UNLESS they are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents
A reminder: all travelers arriving to the U.S. from abroad via air travel must show proof of negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. Results must be from a test taken within 72-hours of the traveler’s planned arrival date/time. For the types of tests accepted, you should visit this link. The testing or proof of recovery requirement is applicable to all air passengers 2-years of age or older boarding a flight from a foreign country to the United States, citizenship or residency is not relevant.
Further, for all travelers arriving or returning from abroad to Duke, you are strongly encouraged to follow the CDC advice which is to isolate for up to 5-days upon arrival/return and get tested between days 3 and 5. Students experiencing symptoms can contact Student Health by calling 919-684-1258 to get tested and non-symptomatic Students can be tested via the surveillance test sites Monday through Friday between 9am and 4pm. For employees, you can schedule testing through Duke MyChart or call Employee Occupational Health and Wellness at 919-385-0429, option 2 (8 am to 6 pm, Monday - Saturday).
As to Duke’s position on travel amidst this latest development tied to Omicron, it is unchanged for now. That advice being: 1) Travelers should be vaccinated and are highly encouraged to have the booster prior to traveling internationally; and 2) Travelers should consult the Duke Restricted Regions List (RRL) to help assess risks tied to your destination and follow the Duke Travel Policy and COVID-19 Addendum if traveling abroad with Duke-support. The RRL indicates which nations Duke “restricts” travel to – due to safety and security reasons such as armed conflict, terror threats, natural disasters, etc. – and those Duke has “suspended” travel to due to the prevalence of COVID-19.
Also, please be aware that a “suspended” nation on the Duke RRL is an indication that this country has reported to the WHO an incidence rate of more than 500 cumulative new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population and a projected trajectory of new cases to increase. This is considered an “outbreak” and leads the CDC to raise their Traveler Health Notices to a risk rating of Level 4. Duke has correlated its suspension of ALL non-essential Duke-supported travel to countries that the CDC has assigned either a Level 4 or “Unknown” COVID-19 risk rating. Whether or not a particular variant of COVID-19 is present in a country is NOT part of the Duke suspension or restriction process at this time.
If you have questions regarding entry requirements (e.g., latest tests requirements, proof of insurance, a copy of your test results from Duke, etc.) or regarding the above information, please do not hesitate to reach out.
We wish you a safe and smooth holiday season and hope that you have found this message helpful. As always, please don’t hesitate to respond to me or Dr. Eric Mlyn, Chair of the Global Travel Advisory Committee and its subcommittee on COVID-19, if you have any questions.
Resources to check on the entry requirements for your destination country:
- The Duke-International SOS portal and click on the “COVID-19” button, second down on the left side of the home page;
- Visit the U.S. Embassy website in the destination country (see the list by country at https://www.usembassy.gov/, once at the Embassy webpage, click on the “COVID-19!” icon [note: the Embassy site is also a key resource to locate COVID testing sites in host nations for when one needs a test to return to the U.S. Your hotel or hosts may also have recommendations for COVID-19 testing clinics.); and
- The Embassy of your destination country in Washington D.C. (e.g., website of Kenya’s U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C. Once at the website look for COVID-19 entry requirements or Consular section for requirements to enter the country.