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US lifts Covid-related travel ban for eight African countries

The United States will remove travel Bans were imposed last month on eight African countries as the country sought to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

A senior administration official said foreign nationals arriving in the US from these countries will be allowed to board flights to the US from midnight on December 31.

Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi all face restrictions as part of the ban, as recommended by Anthony Fauci, Biden’s medical director and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. sick.

A senior administration official said the CDC recommended lifting the restrictions because the new variant was widespread in the US and globally.

“According to our medical and health experts at CDC, the value of restricting international travel in countries is greatest in the early stages of an outbreak, before the virus or variant is disseminated. widely,” the official said. “This value decreases as domestic transmission begins to contribute a larger proportion of the case burden.”

Health officials also say the vaccine is effective in preventing severe illness, and that progress has been made by medical professionals trying to understand the new Omicron variant.

President Joe Biden said earlier this week he was considering lifting the ban. “Remember why I said we put in a travel ban – it was to see how much time we had before it got here so we could start deciding what we needed by See what’s happening in other countries,” Biden said. “And now we’re past that.”

The CDC said on Monday that Omicron now accounts for about 73% of US Covid-19 cases, up from just 13% a week ago.

The spike in cases comes as the US grapples with a short of Covid-19 tests in the US. Earlier this week, Biden announced his administration would purchase 500m of rapid home testing to send to households starting in January as it appears to slow the rise in cases.

The United States earlier this month tightened regulations for international travelers, expanded the requirement to wear masks on planes and at airports, and required a negative Covid-19 test within a day of the date of arrival. entry to the US.

Previously, vaccinated international air travelers could present a negative test result within three days of their departure.

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