President Joe Biden announced Friday the US will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries starting Monday as a new coronavirus variant has emerged
The administration’s decision was in response to advice from Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the official said. Roughly a dozen countries took similar action on Friday.
He told reporters later Friday of the decision: “I’ve decided we’re going to be cautious.”
President Joe Biden announced Friday the US will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries starting Monday as a new coronavirus variant has emerged. #COVID #Omicron #JoeBiden
The restrictions don’t apply to American citizens or lawful permanent residents although those individuals must still test negative prior to traveling.
The President urged fully vaccinated Americans to get booster shots and the unvaccinated to get the “life-saving protection.”
Biden also addressed the global community in his statement, saying the new variant shows the pandemic won’t end until vaccines are readily available around the world.
He said the U.S. has donated more vaccines than every country combined, calling on others to match “America’s speed and generosity.”
The new variant was discovered a few days ago on South Africa. Dr Tulio Oliveira made a live public announcement concerning variant B.1.1.529. South African scientists said it’s to blame for the recent surge in Gauteng, the country’s most populated province. It’s unclear when the new variant began circulating, but it has been seen in travelers to Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.
A World Health Organization panel named the variant “omicron” and said early evidence suggests an increased risk of infection. The same category that includes the delta variant, the world’s most prevalent. The panel said early evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection.
Belgium became the first European Union country to announce a case of the variant.
“It’s a suspicious variant,” Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said. “We don’t know if it’s a very dangerous variant.”
Israel, one of the world’s most vaccinated countries, announced Friday that it also detected its first case of the new variant in a traveler who returned from Malawi. The traveler and two other suspected cases were placed in isolation. Israel said all three were vaccinated, but officials were looking into the travelers’ exact vaccination status.
Hong Kong announced two cases. On was a man returning from South Africa.