Fauci: US to allow travel from South Africa after reasonable time

Washington, Dec 5 (EFE).- Top US government health adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday that he expects that the country will review its restrictions on travel from South Africa and other African countries within “a reasonable period of time” as more information about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus – first detected in South Africa – is accumulated.

The travel ban, imposed by Washington a week ago, has been harshly criticized, including by the World Health Organization, for “penalizing” those countries after the new variant was detected in all of them, although it appears to have originated in South Africa.

“As we’re getting more and more information about cases in our own country and worldwide we’re looking at that very carefully on a daily basis. Hopefully we’ll be able to lift that ban within a quite reasonable period of time,” Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Since the restrictions entered into effect, Omicron infections have been reported in at least five US states.

The travel ban affects travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Mozambique and Malawi.

Fauci said that US authorities are reevaluating the situation “in real time, literally, on a daily basis” and are working to determine as quickly as possible how infectious and aggressive the Omicron variant is.

The United States, in terms of its official caseload and death toll, has been the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 788,000 deaths. At present, almost 60 percent of the country’s population has been fully immunized against Covid-19 and 22 percent have also received a booster shot.

It is not definitively known yet, however, how much protection against the Omicron variant the currently available vaccines provide.

EFE afs/cpy/bp

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