Biden Lifts African Nations’ Omicron Travel Restrictions

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Based on data from the US CDC, Omicron was responsible for 58.6% of COVID-19 infections over the past week.

The US president declares that restrictions are ‘essential’ when a new COVID-19 variant becomes the dominant strain.


  • US President Joe Biden has issued an executive order lifting travel restrictions in eight southern African nations.
  • The Omicron coronavirus variant has been detected in over 100 countries and is widespread in the United States.
  • Travel restrictions were imposed last month following the detection of the variant in South Africa.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an advisory for the coronavirus COVID-19 Omicron variant.
  • It is possible that the new variant will lead to less severe illness and a relatively low risk of hospitalization than the Delta variant.

US President Joe Biden has officially ordered the lifting of travel restrictions imposed on eight southern African nations last month to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, stating that the restrictions are “no longer essential to protect public health.”

On Tuesday, Biden issued a proclamation lifting travel restrictions from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi to the United States.


Omicron travel restrictions lifted.

On Friday, at 12:01 a.m. (05:01 GMT), the ban will be lifted.

Late last week, the Biden administration declared its decision to lift the travel restrictions, citing health experts’ announcement that Omicron had already become the dominant strain of the virus in the country.

“Most importantly, scientific experts have determined that patients who get the COVID-19 vaccine are protected against severe sickness and hospitalization caused by the Omicron variant,” Biden stated in Tuesday’s declaration.

“Additionally, the Omicron variant has spread to over 100 nations and is currently widespread in the United States.”

Late in November, the US and several other countries issued travel bans on southern African countries following the discovery of the Omicron variant in South Africa.

On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the Omicron strain as a “variant of concern.”

According to the WHO, there is “consistent evidence” that Omicron is spreading “much quicker” than the formerly prevalent Delta variant. “And it is more likely that those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 may become infected or re-infected,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated.


Travel restrictions hamper global cooperation.

However, researchers in South Africa and the United Kingdom stated that their research indicated that the new variant might lead to less severe sickness and a reduced likelihood of hospitalization than the Delta strain.

The WHO had previously warned against travel restrictions following the identification of the Omicron variant, stating that such measures would jeopardize global collaboration in the fight against the virus.

Tedros cautioned against “blanket travel bans” in early December, saying they “impose a tremendous price on lives and livelihoods.”

The Omicron variant has spread rapidly in the United States despite the travel restrictions.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States estimated that Omicron was responsible for 58.6 percent of new COVID-19 infections throughout the new week.

Infections have increased across the United States, with states such as New York and Maine reporting record levels of new infections in the last seven days.

The CDC reduced the recommended quarantine period for asymptomatic patients who test positive for COVID-19 from ten to five days.

“These changes guarantee that individuals can continue living normally safely,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Our best option is prevention: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in locations with significant and high community transmission, and take a test before gathering.”

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