The White House has announced the lifting of travel bans in eight southern African countries.
Reuters reports that foreign nationals who have visited South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be allowed to enter the United States after 12:01 am ET on the 31st. December. Leaders in the region have criticized the ban as discriminatory and frivolous.
Air travel restrictions were imposed on November 29 to curb the highly infectious new variant of Omicron COVID-19, which was discovered by scientists in South Africa. Omicron has now become the dominant variant in the United States, accounting for 73% of new cases in the United States.
White House spokesman Kevin Munoz tweeted Friday that the “move 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. “
Last month, apparently, public health officials in the United States had time to see if our vaccines and booster shots are working against Omicron. “This travel break has served its purpose. It saved time to understand the science, it gave time to analyze the variant, ”an unidentified official told the outlet. “It wasn’t intended to prevent Omicron from entering. We knew we couldn’t do this. The aim was to reduce the number of cases that arrive, during these first days and weeks. “
Foreign travelers from the aforementioned southern African countries will need to show they are fully vaccinated and prove they have a negative COVID-19 test.
“We certainly welcome this development,” said Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy at South Africa’s department of international relations, by The New York Times. “We have always maintained that these travel bans were unscientific and discriminatory. They have had a devastating impact on our travel and tourism industry, on businesses and families.
The British government previously announced on Tuesday that it was lifting restrictions on travelers from 11 African countries.
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