ATLANTA — Progress is progress and it appears Atlanta-based Delta airlines has figured out a way to get travelers to and from Italy while avoiding having to be in quarantine due to the pandemic.
Georgia health officials are working with Italian officials on a COVID-19 testing program that would allow entry into the country without waiting.
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The airline announced on Thursday they’ve partnered with Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Rome’s International Airport to put the program into place.
Starting Dec. 19, Delta’s trial run will test customers and crew on newly relaunched flights from Atlanta to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport.
Here is a list of the testing procedures:
• A COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure
• A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding
• A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino
• A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure to the United States
Delta said they’ve worked with advisors from The Mayo Clinic to review and assess the proposal and possibility of pulling off a COVID-19 tested flight. The airline also says they are expecting the Italian government to issue a decree on the plan.
“Carefully designed COVID-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in place. ”said Delta’s Steve Sear.
“Based on the modeling we have conducted, when testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing and environmental cleaning, we can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection – on a flight that is 60 percent full – should be nearly one in a million,” said Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Henry Ting.
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Delta says Georgia’s Department of Public Health helped them develop a blueprint for governments to reopen important international travel markets.
“The State of Georgia and the Italian government have demonstrated leadership in testing protocols and practices that can safely reopen international travel without quarantine requirements,” Sear added.
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Delta says by putting the testing program in place, it will allow passengers permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons like work, health or education along with citizens, the ability to go back and forth to the Mediterranean country.
Anyone flying the route will also be asked to provide information upon entry into the U.S. to support CDC contact-tracing protocols.