The U.S. is going to restrict travel from South Africa and several other countries due to a troubling new COVID-19 variant.
The White House announced the new rules, which come just weeks after the country reopened to international tourists with new entry rules, on Friday.
The new rules, which take effect Monday, apply to travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are excluded.
The policy was implemented out of an “abundance of caution” in light of the new variant and in consultation with Anthony Fauci, the president’s Chief Medical Officer, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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The World Health Organization on Friday declared the variant, omicron, a variant of concern. The first case was reported to WHO from South Africa on Wednesday.
Several European countries and the United Kingdom have already taken measures to restrict travel to and from Africa since the new variant came to light.
United and Delta are the only U.S. airlines offering service between the U.S. and Africa.
United Airlines began offering flights between the United States and Africa, flights that only began earlier this year.
The Chicago-based airline offers nonstop flights between Newark and Johannesburg and Washington, D.C., to Accra three times a week. It is also due to resume seasonal service to Cape Town in December.
“We’re monitoring the situation but don’t have any changes to announce at this time,” United spokeswoman Nicole Carriere said via email.
Delta offers service between Atlanta and Johannesburg and said it, too, is monitoring the situation.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort