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Atlanta airport watching out for omicron in arriving passengers

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 11:46 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — a key hub for Augusta travelers — is now testing for the new variant as Delta flights continue to arrive from South Africa.

South Africa is one of the first places where scientists identified the new omicron strain of coronavirus that’s prompting President Joe Biden to announce new guidelines for international travel Thursday. It’s also the place linked to the first U.S. case of the omicron variant.

Travel is restricted from southern Africa, but U.S. citizens are still being allowed to come back home.

The tests for fliers from South Africa would potentially include a COVID test for passengers within a day of boarding a plane, and another test within three to five days of arriving back here.

Atlanta is the headquarters of Delta, one of two airlines serving Augusta Regional Airport. Many fliers to and from Augusta have to change planes in Atlanta.

Some people at the Atlanta airport on Wednesday say they are not too surprised omicron has now been detected in America.

“I think it makes a lot of sense because not a lot of people are following the guidelines,” said Nia Bailey, who was picking up a friend from the airport Wednesday.

The CDC says the first U.S. patient, who noticed symptoms after arriving in San Francisco from South Africa, is fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms that are improving. The patient’s close contacts have all tested negative.

“The individual is self-quarantining and all close contacts have been contacted, and all close contacts thus far have tested negative. The individual was fully vaccinated and experienced mild symptoms, which are improving at this point,” said U.S. health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Meanwhile, a second U.S. case was confirmed Thursday, this one in Minnesota.

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