African countries

United States lifts travel restrictions for southern African countries

MONDAY, December 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) – As of December 31, the United States will lift travel restrictions on eight countries in southern Africa.

The restrictions were first announced in late November in response to concerns over Omicron, the highly contagious new variant of COVID-19. Omicron was first spotted in southern Africa.

The restrictions targeted travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents were not limited by the restrictions, but still had to test negative before traveling.

“On December 31, @POTUS will lift temporary travel restrictions on Southern African countries. This move was recommended by @CDCgov, ”White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said on Twitter. “The restrictions have given us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron,” [especially] boosted.

While Omicron has many more mutations than previously detected variants, early data from South Africa and the UK suggests that patients face a lower risk of hospitalization with this particular variant. Omicron may be milder or more people may be immune to previous infections or vaccination, CBS News reported.

Fully vaccinated and stimulated individuals have more breakthrough infections, but they seem “to be doing better in general than … in the past,” said Dr Jon LaPook, CBS News‘chief medical correspondent. Still, he warned, “you have waning immunity, especially against Omicron” and he advised people to be given boosters to dramatically increase their immunity.

Omicron also spread rapidly in the United States and Europe. Most cases of COVID-19 in the United States are now due to this variant.

It is still unclear what effect Omicron will ultimately have in the United States, although drug makers have said studies show some of the current treatments have continued effectiveness in treating it.

The World Health Organization denounced the travel restrictions during their announcement.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.