WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will restrict travel to non-U.S. Citizens of South Africa and seven other countries from Monday, as part of a global effort to curb the spread of the highly mutated omicron variant of Covid-19, senior officials said. officials. . .
Besides South Africa, the affected countries are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
The decision came less than three weeks after the Biden administration lifted pandemic travel restrictions for visitors from more than 30 countries.
President Joe Biden was briefed on alternative Friday by White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci when a growing list of countries issued their own travel bans.
Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom all announced travel restrictions for South Africa on Friday, Even though Belgian officials have announced that many cases of the ommicron variant have already been identified there.
Also on Friday, the newly identified variant was referred to by the World Health Organization as the Greek letter omicron and officially recognized the strain, previously known as Proportionsb 184.108.40.2069, as a “variable of concern”. “
The health experts are: very worried On the portability of the omicron variant, as it exhibits an unusual constellation of mutations and a profile that differs from other variants of concern. The severity of infection in vaccinated patients is unclear.
There are concerns that the sharp rise in Covid cases in the South African province of Gauteng – where the highly mutated strain of the virus was first identified – could mean that it has a greater ability to evade the virus. previous immunity than other variants.
Name of a new worrying species coupled with a growing warning from health authorities Caused a deterioration in world markets on Friday. Oil prices and entertainment stocks suffered heavy losses on the news.
Shares of airlines and other travel agencies fell on Friday. The new restrictions come as airlines and carriers like Boeing have expressed optimism that travel demand will return, especially on international routes, next year.
According to aviation consulting firm Cirium, 122 flights are scheduled between the United States and South Africa for December.
United, which has the most scheduled flights with 87 flights, will resume non-stop flights between Newark, New Jersey, its main hub, and Cape Town next month. A spokeswoman said no changes were planned at this time.
Delta has 35 scheduled flights between the United States and South Africa in December.
CNBC’s Sam Meredith and Robert Toye contributed coverage.
This is urgent news. Check again for updates.
“Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover.”