New international travel restrictions now in place as US officials try to curb spread of Omicron variant

U.S. health officials say early reports about Omicron are "encouraging" suggesting the new COVID-19 variant is less dangerous than Delta. 

Vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor College of Medicine says he can’t stress enough how important it is for people to get their boosters, as more cases of the Omicron variant are reported around the country. 

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"I mean it looks certainly in South Africa, it's highly transmissible. We are hearing stories from South African physicians saying that most of the patients that they're seeing have mild illness and a number of the ones in the hospital are only picked up on incidental testing, meaning they were admitted for another reason, but they're tested because they test everybody for COVID," Hotez said. 


Hotez believes another COVID-19 wave may be approaching.

"Just like we saw the terrible Delta wave over the summer, I think we're going to see it again in the winter. First of all, if you've gotten two immunizations but haven't gotten your third yet, and you're eligible for it, get it because that'll build in a better, big increase in your virus-neutralizing antibodies to help you fight off both Delta and Omicron. Second, if you've been infected and recovered, remember that is not strong protection, you still need to get vaccinated. Third, get your kids vaccinated," Hotez said. 

New restrictions for international travelers entering the US went into effect Monday. All passengers, two years and older, will now need to get a negative COVID-19 test no more than one day before their flight to the US, regardless of vaccination status or citizenship. The previous ruling said passengers could test up to three days before their flight departure. 

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Those who’ve recently recovered from COVID may show documentation of recovery from a healthcare professional clearing them to travel.