CDC Expands Surveillance at 4 Major US Airports to Look for Omicron

United Airlines passengers wait in line to register at the SFO COVID-19 rapid testing site at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands on Thursday without having to self-quarantine upon arrival. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding surveillance at four major international airports to keep an eye out for the Omicron variant of coronavirus in travelers, the agency’s director said Tuesday.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a White House Covid-19 briefing that the CDC is expanding surveillance with XpresCheck, a testing service at airport terminals, to the following four places:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • Newark Liberty International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport

Walensky noted they are four of the busiest international airports in the country.

The Biden administration imposed new restrictions on travel from eight southern African countries, including South Africa, late last week. Omicron was first reported by South African health authorities.

But Delta Air Lines, with headquarters and major operations in Atlanta, said it plans to continue its Atlanta-Johannesburg flights.

United Airlines also said it does not plan to scale back service between Newark and Johannesburg and will restart its route to Cape Town, also in South Africa, next week as planned.

This new effort is actually an expansion of a biosurveillance program first launched in September that provided testing for travelers arriving from India at JFK, Newark and San Francisco, according to XpresSpa Group, the parent company of XpresCheck.

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