United States registers the first case of the Omicron variant
Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, began a tour of three countries on the African continent on Sunday, starting with South Africa. The official’s visit is seen as part of a competition between Russia and China against the United States and Western powers for market leadership in Africa and support for Ukraine after its invasion.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Blinken is on a 10-day trip to Cambodia, the Philippines, South Africa, Congo and Rwanda. AP – Andrew Harnik
U.S. bans travel from South Africa and other countries in the world
The cascade of country restrictions began Thursday night when the United Kingdom announced it would temporarily suspend flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Singapore has opted to ban entry to all non-residents from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, while returning nationals and permanent residents from any of these countries will be required to spend 10 days at home. Malaysia has also taken similar measures.
Meanwhile, Germany plans to declare South Africa a “virus variant area” as of Friday night, which will mean that airlines will only be able to enter from the country to repatriate German nationals.
The United States will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries as of Monday. Following advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Biden administration will restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
Europe confirms first case of the Covid-19 variant
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Government notified Friday that starting next Monday it will place restrictions on travelers from South Africa and seven other countries in southern Africa in the face of the appearance of a new variant of the coronavirus dubbed “omicron”.
“As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries,” President Joe Biden said in a statement sent by the White House.
The new restrictions will go into effect Nov. 29 and as information and knowledge of the omicron variant advances, Biden said, further decisions could be made based on what science and the medical team of advisors advise him.
President Biden made the decision after hearing suggestions from his chief medical advisor, Anthony Fauci, and officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
U.S. to lift restrictions on U.S. flights on Friday
Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the official name of the new strain, omicron, in accordance with protocols. It labeled it a “variant of concern” in a Friday statement.
What do they say? Fauci, in an interview on CNN’s New Day, said the new variant has “some mutations” that “are raising some concern,” including “with respect to possible increased transmissibility and likely evasion of immune response.”