Washington The White House announced on Monday that President Joe Biden would sign executive action to re-enforce COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-US travelers in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries.
White House press secretary Jane Saki also confirmed that South Africa would be added to the banned list as a variant of the virus spread outside that country.
“This is not the time to lift the ban on international travel,” Saki said in a press briefing.
Top American infectious disease specialist Drs. Anthony Fauci called Mr Biden’s decision “judicious” in a round of television interviews on Monday.
“We worry about the mutation in South Africa,” Fauci told “CBS This Morning.” “We are watching this very actively. It is obviously a different and more ominous than the one in the UK, and I think it is very prudent to restrict the travel of nonsitizens.”
Mr. Biden is reversing an order in his last days in office of President Donald Trump in which he has called for relaxing travel restrictions as of Tuesday. Mr. Trump’s move was coupled with a new requirement from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that all international travelers to the US receive a negative test for COVID-19 within three days of boarding their flight.
Mr Biden’s team had announced that it would again oppose travel restrictions, but the inclusion of South Africa in the banned travel list highlights the new administration’s concern about mutations in the virus.
The South Africa version has not been discovered in the United States, but– originated in the United Kingdom – has been detected in several states.
Fauci said the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against those variants is “very slight, moderately low”, but “there is enough cushion with the vaccines that we have that we still find them effective against both the UK strain and the South Africa Tension. “
But he warned that more mutations are possible and said scientists are preparing to adapt vaccines if necessary.
“We really need to make sure that we start, and we already have, to prepare whether it is necessary to upgrade the vaccines,” FICCI said. “We are already taking steps in this direction, despite the fact that the vaccines we have now work.”