biden: US bans entry from eight African countries


The United States will bar entry to most travellers from eight South African countries starting on Monday, after a potentially more-contagious new Covid variant was identified in South Africa, President Joe Biden has said.

The new variant, dubbed Omicron, poses a new challenge for Biden, who has had a mixed success getting Americans vaccinated after a politically motivated pushback by 10 states. Biden also faces criticism from international health experts and foreign leaders for failing to send vaccines to poorer countries. The travel restrictions do not ban flights or apply to US citizens and lawful US permanent residents.

No cases of Omicron were identified in the United States to date, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency expects that it would identify the B.1.1.529 variant quickly, if it emerges in the country. Countries around the world rushed to suspend travel from southern Africa after the World Health Organization said Omicron was “of concern”. Many of those bans kick in immediately, unlike those issued by Biden.

The restrictions apply to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. Most non-US citizens, who have been in those countries within the prior 14 days, will not be allowed into the United States.

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