SADC under siege: Biden orders air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries
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Cape Town - The Biden administration has joined a chorus of nations prohibiting flights from South Africa and several other southern African countries in the wake of the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday.
The travel restrictions will begin Monday, November 29, affecting South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, eSwatini, Mozambique and Malawi, according to a senior administration official.
The administration’s decision was in response to advice from Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the official said, reported Politico.com.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Biden said: “The @WHO has identified a new Covid variant which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries.
“As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises. For now the best way to strengthen your protection if you’re already vaccinated is to get a booster shot, immediately. For those not yet fully vaccinated: get vaccinated today.”
Biden then spoke to the world community saying: “This news is a reminder that this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations. The US has already donated more vaccines to other countries than every other country combined. It is time for other countries to match our speed and generosity.”
Furthermore, the Botswana Department of Health and Wellness on Friday said that the new Covid-19 variant (B.1.1.529), which was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on Wednesday, was detected in four people who entered Botswana on a diplomatic mission on November 7.
The country’s health department says that it is currently investigating certain mutations of the SARS-COV-2 virus that has been reported widely on Friday, leading to the UK implementing a travel ban on six southern African countries, including South Africa.
Furthermore, the EU said on Friday it would propose to halt air travel to and from southern Africa as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of a new variant of Covid-19.