United States Lifts COVID Travel Restrictions on Southern African Countries | Coronavirus pandemic News
The US ban imposed on Omicron fears applied to eight African countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The United States will lift restrictions on travelers from southern African countries, imposed last month over concerns over the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, a Biden administration official said.
In one Tweeter White House Deputy Press Secretary Kevin Munoz said on Friday that the restrictions would be lifted on December 31, following a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The restrictions have given us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron,” [especially] boosted, ”Munoz wrote.
The United States was among several countries to impose travel restrictions on countries in southern Africa after scientists in South Africa first identified Omicron on November 24. The World Health Organization (WHO) later called the strain a “variant of concern” and warned it posed a “very high risk.”
The 31st of December @POTUS will lift temporary travel restrictions on southern African countries. This decision was recommended by @CDCgov. The restrictions have given us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, especially boosted ones. https://t.co/NdRTtntRuE
– Kevin Munoz (@ KMunoz46) December 24, 2021
But the WHO and other global health experts criticized the travel bans, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying on December 1 that the restrictions that isolated a country or region were “not only deeply unfair and punitive – they are ineffective “.
“With a virus that is truly borderless, the travel restrictions that isolate a country or region are not only deeply unfair and punitive – they are ineffective,” Guterres said at a press conference at the time, calling rather to an increase in tests for travelers.
The US ban applied to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
A senior White House official added that with Omicron’s presence in the United States and around the world, international travelers from the eight affected countries would not have a significant effect on American cases.
“During the travel break, President Biden reduced the time for pre-departure testing to one day from three days… travelers from those eight countries will be subject to these same strict protocols,” the official said.
The CDC said earlier this week that Omicron has become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States, accounting for 73% of new infections.
The surge in the number of cases has prompted some major U.S. cities to tighten restrictions and reinstate indoor mask mandates, while President Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged to provide additional resources to combat the spread of the disease. virus.
Biden said his administration will purchase 500 million rapid home COVID-19 tests and make them available for free starting in January, while the federal government will continue to establish federal testing sites as needed.
He also pledged more support for hospitals “overburdened with COVID” and urged Americans to get vaccinated.
“Get your booster shot, wear a mask,” the US president said. “Our doctors have made it clear that booster shots offer the best protection. Sadly, we still have tens of millions of people eligible for the booster who have yet to receive it. “
But as Omicron continues to spread, the WHO chief warned this week that the rush in wealthy countries to deploy additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is worsening vaccine inequalities – and prolonging the pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday priority should be given to vaccinating vulnerable people around the world, rather than giving extra doses to those already vaccinated. “No country can get out of the pandemic,” he told reporters.