White House coronavirus response team member Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 testing requirements for visitors entering the United States are a “different issue” to the testing of illegal immigrants because the administration doesn’t “have the capability” to test all illegal aliens crossing the border.
The Biden administration is expected to announce newly-updated testing requirements for air travelers entering the United States in the coming days. It comes following discovery of the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, by South Africa last week.
It is broadly anticipated that U.S. citizens and foreign nationals arriving at the border will soon be required to present a negative COVID-19 test performed within 24 hours of departure—a change from the current three days allowed for vaccinated travelers.
The administration is also reportedly considering whether to require air travelers to get a second COVID-19 test within three to five days after arrival in the United States.
A spokeswoman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed to The Epoch Times that the agency is working to modify its global testing rules for travelers and that a “revised order would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States.”
During a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Fauci was asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy whether the new testing requirements would apply to everyone entering the country.
“The answer is yes. You know that the new regulation—if you want to call it that—is that anybody and everybody who is coming into the country needs to get a test within 24 hours of getting on the plane to come here,” the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director said.
When asked whether the new screening requirements would apply to individuals who do not travel to the U.S. by plane, such as illegal immigrants who cross the border, Fauci explained, “That’s a different issue.”
“We still have Title 42 with regards to protection at the border,” Fauci said. “There are protections at the border that you don’t have the capability, as you know, of getting somebody on a plane, getting checked, looking at a passport, we don’t have that there. But we can get some degree of mitigation.”
“There is testing at the border under certain circumstances,” Dr. Fauci added.
Fauci’s comments came shortly after he announced the first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the United States.
Genomic sequencing conducted at the University of California–San Francisco and reviewed by CDC scientists confirmed that the case is caused by the new COVID-19 variant.
The patient traveled from South Africa on Nov. 22, began experiencing symptoms on Nov. 25, and tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 29. The person, a San Francisco resident who hasn’t been publicly identified, is self-isolating. They are fully vaccinated. They are said to be experiencing mild symptoms that are improving, officials have said.
All of the patient’s close contacts have been contacted and, thus far, all have tested negative for COVID-19.
“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of Omicron would be detected in the United States,” Fauci told reporters.
The United States has imposed travel restrictions on eight southern African nations because of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa and Botswana last month. Those restrictions went into effect on Nov. 29.
The White House said the decision was a “precautionary measure” as scientists work to determine whether the highly transmissible variant is also associated with more severe disease.
So far, preliminary observations by several doctors in South Africa and Israel have reported relatively mild symptoms, although they said that more data is needed to understand the impact of this variant.