US President Joe Biden said Monday that he does not anticipate “at this time” new travel restrictions on the new omicron variant of COVID-19, first reported by South Africa last week.
“The degree of spread has an impact on the need or not for travel restrictions. But I do not anticipate that at this time.”he told reporters at the White House.
The United States banned from Monday the entry of most travelers from eight countries in southern Africa, a measure criticized by many health experts because it may discourage the reporting of new cases by other nations and because it is likely that the variant is already widespread.
“Today we have more tools to combat the variant than we had before”
In a televised address, Biden said the new omicron strain, potentially more infectious than the currently dominant delta and already detected in several countries, “is cause for concern, not panic.”
“Today we have more tools to combat the variant than we had before,” he said, adding that his chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, hoped that current vaccines would continue to offer protection against the virus.
Facing the holiday season at the end of the year, The president asked Americans to get vaccinated and vaccinated their children or, if necessary, receive their booster doses, as well as use masks in closed spaces.
“If people are vaccinated and wear a mask, there is no need for confinement,” he said, flanked by Fauci and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Asked about the eventual obligation to be vaccinated or present a virus detection test to take internal flights in the United States, Biden replied that “at this time it is not a recommendation” from the scientific community.
The president added that he would present “on Thursday” a detailed strategy to combat COVID-19 during the boreal winter., “not with closures or confinements, but by expanding vaccination, booster doses, tests.”
The list of countries where the omicron variant has been detected continues to grow, especially in Europe, after the first cases reported in southern Africa, prompting many states to suspend travel to this region and institute preventive restrictions.
The variant has already reached America: Canada announced its first two cases on Sunday.