Biden to enforce travel restrictions on 8 South African countries amid concern over new COVID-19 variant


People lineup to get on the Air France flight to Paris at OR Tambo’s airport in Johannesburg, South Africa’, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. A slew of nations moved to stop air travel from southern Africa on Friday in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant that has been detected in South Africa. Scientists say it is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:57 PM PT – Friday, November 26, 2021

The Biden administration is placing travel restrictions on several South African countries amid the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant. On Friday, the White House said Biden will restrict travel from eight countries, including South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. While a timetable for the travel bans has yet to be disclosed, Joe Biden claimed he will listen to what his medical team advises.

The new variant, which has been called B.1.1.529, has also alarmed global health officials who claim the variant may evade vaccines. On top of that, they warned it could be more transmissible than previous variants.

The U.S. appears to be following in the footsteps of the U.K. after the country banned six flights from African countries due onset. Britain’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, explained the decision.

“We will be suspending all flights from six southern African countries and we will adding those countries to the travel red list,” he stated. “Those countries are South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Zimbabwe and Botswana. And we will be requiring anyone that arrives from those countries from 4 a.m. on Sunday to quarantine in hotels.”

In a statement Thursday, the South African Health Ministry said the new variant was first found in Hong Kong and Botswana among airline passengers from the rainbow nation. According the U.K.’s Health Security Agency, no cases of the new variant have been officially detected in Britain at this time.

“Our scientists are deeply concerned about this variant,” Javid continued. “I’m concerned, of course, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve taken this action today.”

Scientists have said the new variant has a “constellation of new mutations,” but it’s still unclear how infectious it is. This comes after the Delta variant went into “self-extinction” in Japan due to multiple mutations.

The World Health Organization is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the new variant. Meanwhile, the mainstream media has been quick to warn of spiking coronavirus cases ahead of the Christmas holiday season and  is already claiming the new variant is “the worst ever” despite the lack of data on its transmissibility.

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