The US restricts travel from South Africa and 7 other countries

The US restricts travel from South Africa and 7 other countries

Senior officials said the United States will restrict travel to non-US citizens from South Africa and seven other countries from Monday, as part of global efforts to curb the spread of the highly mutated omicron type of Covid-19. Biden government officials. . .

In addition to 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 on visitors from more than 30 countries.

President Joe Biden was briefed on alternate Friday by White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, when a growing list of countries issued their own travel bans.

Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom announced travel restrictions for South Africa on Friday, even as Belgian officials announced that several cases of the oomicron variant had been identified there.

Also on Friday, the newly identified variant was identified by the World Health Organization as the Greek letter omicron and the strain, formerly referred to as Proportions b, was officially recognized as a ‘variant of concern’. “

Health experts are very concerned about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, as it has an unusual constellation of mutations and a profile that differs from other variants of concern. It is not clear how severe the infection is for vaccinated patients.

It is feared that a sharp rise in Covid cases in South Africa’s Gauteng province – where the highly mutated strain of the virus was first identified – may mean it has a greater ability to escape previous immunity than other variants.

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The naming of a worrying new species coupled with a growing warning from health officials caused global markets to plummet on Friday. Oil prices and entertainment stocks took heavy losses on the news.

Shares of airlines and other travel companies fell on Friday. The new restrictions come as airlines and carriers such as Boeing have expressed optimism about a return in demand for travel, especially international routes, next year.

According to aviation consultancy Cirium, 122 flights are scheduled between the United States and South Africa in December.

United, which has the most scheduled flights with 87 flights, will resume non-stop flights between Newark and New Jersey, its main hub, and Cape Town next month. A spokeswoman said there were no changes planned at this time.

Delta has 35 scheduled flights between the US and South Africa in December.

CNBC’s Sam Meredith and Robert Toye contributed reporting.

This is urgent news. Check again for updates.

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