On Monday, the Biden administration banned travel from South Africa, which first reported the new variant, as well as Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi and from neighboring Mozambique. But there have been indications that the variant may have originated in Europe, raising questions whether the United States may once again shut down flights from Europe, just weeks after they were lifted.
Even though the world trying to tackle the new threat, Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said US travel mitigation measures offer strong protections in addition to standard recommendations and practices – wearing masks, vaccination and other tools – for the American public.
Walensky on Tuesday touted pre-departure travel actions, such as testing before boarding a flight. Coupled with “international travel policies that have helped keep Americans safe as well as our genomic surveillance system,” these measures will help detect Omicron “if and when this happens” in the United States, she said. .
Separately, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the same applies to the Canadian border, which reopened to fully vaccinated foreign travelers earlier this month.
“The president’s decisions related to travel restrictions will be based on recommendations from his health and medical team, they did not advise [closing the border] at this point, ”she said. “But we will continue to assess the steps we need to take.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization, which named Omicron a “variant of concern” on November 26, has recommended foreign travelers aged 60 and over stay at home.
“People who are not doing well or who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease and dying, including people 60 years of age or older or those with co-morbidities (for example, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes ), should be advised to postpone their trip, ”the organization said. noted.
Julian Sorapuru contributed to this report.