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Do I need COVID-19 tests or vaccines for international travel?

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Well, it all depends on where you are headed.

In an effort to limit the spread of new variants of the coronavirus, most countries require travelers to come to show a recent negative test.

The US, for example, will accept results from either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that detects the genetic material of the virus that is considered the most sensitive type of test and the gold standard or a rapid test that requires viral proteins called antigens. . Antigen tests are much faster but less reliable indicators of coronavirus. Tests must be taken no more than three days before leaving for the US

Health professionals usually give more sensitive laboratory tests through a nasal tampon, which take a day or more to give results. Quick tests have a return time of about 15 to 30 minutes and are increasingly used to check people at test sites, offices, schools and nursing homes. For some quick tests, users can tighten themselves at home.

With each test, the U.S. requires electronic or printed evidence of a negative result from a medical laboratory. This means that even if you plan to do the test faster, you will probably need to see a healthcare provider who can provide the documentation.

England has a similar structure, accepting results from both types of tests. But health authorities there are imposing additional requirements, including that the tests meet certain accuracy thresholds. Travelers are told to check to make sure their test meets the standards. However, the country has also imposed heavy fines and imprisonment for violators of its COVID-19 restrictions and mandated quarantine for citizens traveling from high-risk countries.

Turkey also joined a list of countries to change its rules for foreign travelers recently. Those wishing to travel to Turkey are required to submit negative PCR tests performed within the last 72 hours prior to arrival, while travelers from Denmark, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil will have to stay in quarantine for 14 days in Turkey. . Travelers from the UK and Denmark are allowed to self-isolate themselves at the place where they plan to stay during their stay, while those from South Africa and Brazil will be quarantined in state-run student dormitories. Travelers will undergo a second test on the 10th day of their stay, and if they are negative, they will be allowed to end the isolation early.

After countries set different requirements, officials in the European Union agreed to standardize the requirements. The EU announced on Thursday that they had approved a list of rapid COVID-19 antigen tests, the results of which would be recognized in the 27-nation bloc and would accept these certificates for cross-bloc travel.

The Netherlands has also asked incoming passengers to show two negative final test results, one from a PCR test within the last 72 hours and one from a rapid antigen or LAMP test (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) within four hours from their flight.

Iceland became the first European country in late January to issue vaccination certificates to citizens receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The country said it would accept similar documents issued by the EU or Schengen countries as well. The Nordic countries of Denmark and Sweden have also said they will open a digital passport for vaccines, as Poland did last month.

Similarly, Estonia has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to issue “smart yellow cards” using blockchain technology to provide vaccination evidence. Those who have already had COVID-19 are required to present a negative PCR test result.

Romania has lifted the quarantine requirement for travelers who can prove they have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, although some countries such as the US are still not allowed entry. Meanwhile, Bulgaria also dropped the requirement for a negative PCR test for students coming from Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Macedonia and northern Romania and traveling to the country every day or at least once a week. But for the rest, the country mandates a negative PCR test result 72 hours before the trip.

Georgia announced that passengers arriving by plane from EU countries, Turkey, Israel, Switzerland, US, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain would be able to enter the country without a vaccine passport or report but that they will have to show a negative PCR test and get another test their third day in the country, to be paid out of their own pocket.

The Republic of Seychelles accepts entry from vaccinated passengers and has lifted mandatory quarantines but also requires a negative PCR test less than 72 hours before the flight.

Last month, Sri Lanka and the Maldives became one of the few Asian countries to allow the entry of international travelers without being subject to strict quarantines. Although the first introduced a rather interesting concept that allows tourists to travel within bio bubbles, where they stay in approved hotels and visit approved sites while undergoing frequent testing. Visitors are also not allowed to mingle with the local population for the first 14 days of their stay.

New Zealand and Australia currently do not allow international travelers and had a common travel bubble but have suspended it for 72 hours. Travelers are required to submit medical certificates and a negative test result. LAMP, PCR or RT-PCR tests are accepted.

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