Reopening of the border leading to some health concerns as Europe sees COVID-19 surge

Posted at 6:52 AM, Nov 09, 2021

(WXYZ) — The reopening of the American border is leading to some health concerns coming with the pandemic milestone.

The reopening is leading to longer lines at border crossings and long-awaited reunions across the country, including at Detroit Metro Airport.

Officials lifted travel restrictions on 33 countries this week, including Canada, Mexico and most of Europe, but now, Europe is battling a surge that some fear could land here in the U.S.

Experts say if you get sick after hopping on a plane, you most likely caught a respiratory illness. It's the most common disease associated with travel. That worries experts, especially since airlines are seeing international travel bookings spike by 450%.

For 20 months, the pandemic has delayed long-awaited reunions. Adeline Butcher's parents flew in from Paris on Monday, the first time she's seen them in 675 days.

"They were supposed to be here for Easter 2020 but that didn't happen," Butcher said.

In March 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection decided to only allow travel for essential reasons.

On Monday, that ban was lifted bringing in droves of visitors from over the Ambassador Bridge.

"Could they be bringing a different variant or strain?" we asked Joel Fishbain, the medical director of infection prevention at Beaumont Health Grosse Pointe.

"While we don't think so, the whole world is watching for these mutations and variants," he said.

Fishbain specializes in infectious disease and travel medicine at Beaumont. If you're welcoming family home for the holidays, his advice is simple.

"I ask that everybody gets vaccinated on both ends and I think we may be okay with this," he said.

The World Health Organization recorded a 55% increase in COVID-19 cases over the last four weeks.

Butcher is hoping the vaccine mandate will bring families from overseas together with minimal health implications.

If you are planning to fly to see family, prepare for longer wait times at the airport.

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