CDC raised the risk level of flying to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Botswana.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US State Department advised against traveling to eight southern African countries on Saturday after the White House announced new travel restrictions in response to a new variant of COVID-19.
CDC raised its travel recommendation to "Risk Level Four: Very High" for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Botswana, while the State Department issued parallel "no travel" advisories on Saturday.
On Monday, the CDC had lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory for South Africa to "Level 1: Low."
The US Government's chief adviser for medical issues, Anthony Fauci, admitted this Saturday that it is possible that the new variant of covid-19 identified in southern Africa has already reached the US but has not yet been detected.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it's here and we haven't detected it yet. But, when you have a virus that is transmitted so quickly, and there are already cases in other countries as a result of travel, it will almost invariably end up reaching everywhere, "Fauci said in an interview on NBC.
At the moment, the CDC assures that they have not detected cases of the omicrón strain in the United States.
Late on Friday, the governor of New York, the Democrat Kathy Hochul, was the first to declare a state of emergency for the new variant, which will take effect on December 3 and last until at least the 15 of January.
With this measure, Hochul seeks to increase the response capacity of hospitals against covid-19 by prohibiting carrying out non-essential actions in certain circumstances and expanding the power of the state government to purchase emergency medical supplies.
Detecting this new variant from southern Africa worries the scientific community because it presents an amalgam of more than 30 mutations. Although some had already been observed in other variants, such as beta, this is the first time they have been seen together.
Fears of this new strain have led several countries worldwide, including in the EU, to shut down air traffic from southern African countries, especially South Africa and Botswana.
The United States, Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Canada, Austria, and Israel have temporarily suspended travel or announced that they would impose restrictions.