The United States will prohibit the entry of travelers from eight African countries due to the Omicrón variant.


From Monday, flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi will be suspended. However, US citizens will be able to return to the country. The European Union had already made a similar decision.

The White House announced on Friday that it would ban the entry of travelers from eight African countries in an attempt to contain the arrival of the new variant of COVID-19, baptized by the WHO as Omicron.

Travel will be mostly banned starting Monday from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi, said a senior official in President Joe Biden's administration.

THE OFFICIAL ADDED THAT only US citizens and permanent residents will be able to travel from the eight countries. "The policy was implemented with great caution in light of a new variant of Covid-19 circulating in southern Africa," he added.

"Our scientists and public health officials are working quickly and studying this variant," the official added. "President (Joe) Biden promised to take all necessary steps to keep Americans safe and defeat the pandemic, and this was a step recommended by the United States government medical experts and the Covid-19 Response Team."

On Friday afternoon, President Biden said that other countries must match the "generosity" of the United States and donate more vaccines against Covid-19, or the pandemic will not stop.

"This pandemic will not end until we have the global vaccines," he said in a statement from Nantucket, where he was spending the Thanksgiving break. Biden also called on countries to waive intellectual property protections to allow the manufacture of vaccines worldwide.

On Friday, the WHO affirmed that the available evidence allowed to assume a greater risk of reinfection with this variant B.1.1.529. However, it did not issue new recommendations on the limitation of travel or other preventive health measures. Instead, it did ask the international scientific community to continue monitoring work on this and new variants.

Earlier, during an interview with CNN, the chief adviser epidemiologist to the Executive, Anthony Fauci, said they would decide to travel "as soon" as they received more information.

Before the United States, the European Union, Israel, and Canada were among the countries that had made the same decision to contain the spread of this new variable.

Still, it will likely take scientists weeks to understand the mutations in the variant fully. In addition, health authorities are trying to determine if omicron is more transmissible or infectious than other variants and if vaccines are effective against it.

South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla called the travel restrictions "unjustified." However, he also said preliminary studies suggested the new variant could be more transmissible.