By Victor Trammell
As part of a worldwide campaign to combat a significantly mutated variant of COVID-19, non-U.S. nationals from South Africa and seven other nations may face travel restrictions beginning Monday, Nov. 29.
According to top Biden administration officials, the omicron strain was detected in South Africa, with travel restrictions also in place for Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, and Namibia.
President Joe Biden stated in a statement Friday that he would be “led by what the research and my medical staff recommends” as to how long the prohibitions will be in place. As a growing number of nations issued their own travel restrictions, White House top medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci briefed Biden on the threat.
Even as Belgian authorities stated that numerous instances of the omicron strain had already been found there, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom all put restrictions on tourists from southern Africa. New York is “closely monitoring” the new strain, and the World Health Organization has identified “lineage B.1.1.529” as a “variant of concern.”
Considering what scientists have revealed about the omicron coronavirus, health professionals are quite worried about its transmissibility, given that it has a unique set of mutations and a profile that differs from other versions of concern. The severity of illnesses in vaccinated people is unknown.
The advent of this new strain has prompted Biden and his team to urge Americans to obtain booster injections and parents to use the increased vaccination dosages recommended for children aged 5 to 11. Biden also pressed members of the World Trade Organization to abrogate COVID vaccines’ intellectual property rights.
The outbreak of the omicron coronavirus has sent global markets into a tailspin, with the airline and other travel stocks plummeting on Friday. Customers are already finding it difficult to rebook travel due to sudden changes in travel laws, which might further delay the resumption of lucrative overseas business travel.
United Airlines will start nonstop flights between Newark, New Jersey, and Cape Town, South Africa, next month, with 87 trips planned. In December, Delta has 35 flights planned between the United States and South Africa.
This situation is a work-in-progress narrative.