Biden lifts Omicron-related journey restrictions on 8 southern African nations

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Washington — President Biden signed a proclamation on Tuesday rescinding a earlier order that restricted journey from eight nations in southern Africa within the hopes of containing the now-widespread Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The extremely contagious pressure, which now accounts for the overwhelming majority of latest COVID-19 circumstances within the U.S., was first detected by scientists in South Africa in late November. Mr. Biden rapidly restricted journey by non-U.S. residents from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi in response.

In his proclamation on Tuesday, Mr. Biden stated the restrictions “are no longer necessary to protect the public health” and might be lifted after midnight on December 31.

“Having learned more about the Omicron variant in the past several weeks, the CDC now recommends lifting the travel restrictions,” Mr. Biden wrote. “Since I issued that proclamation, our Nation’s health officials, in collaboration with the South African scientists who originally reported the variant, have made substantial progress in understanding the Omicron variant.”

The president pointed to new efforts to display incoming vacationers, together with a requirement that each one vacationers getting into the U.S. by air should check adverse for COVID-19 inside a day of their flight, no matter vaccination standing. The earlier window was three days.

The fast unfold of the Omicron variant shocked public well being officers, and so they have stepped up efforts to encourage Americans to get their vaccinations and booster pictures, which provide sturdy safety from the brand new pressure.

Mr. Biden’s resolution to limit journey from southern Africa was referred to as into query by outstanding scientists, together with from the World Health Organization, who argued the administration was unnecessarily punishing South Africa and different nations for figuring out and rapidly reporting the emergence of the brand new variant.

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