Travel between the US and South Africa will continue, the White House says

President Biden will lift a travel ban between the United States and countries in southern Africa at midnight December 31, a senior administration official said Friday, canceling restrictions imposed used last month to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.

The region’s leaders have condemned the ban as unfair, discriminatory and unnecessary.

Mr. Biden made the decision this week on the advice of his medical team based on findings that an existing Covid vaccine is effective against severe illness with a highly contagious variant of Omicron, particularly in who have been given additional injections of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna senior officials said in an email.

The decision came after the UK government’s announcement on Tuesday that they have lifted restrictions on tourists from 11 African countries.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials also advised Mr. Biden and his team that Omicron, which has surpassed Delta as the dominant variant in the United States, is already widely available worldwide so it’s limited. travel to and from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia, the official said.

Ban announced on November 26, after officials in South Africa reported the emergence of a variant, which has a large number of mutations that allow it to evade the immune response of even those who have vaccinated. The ban went into effect at midnight on November 29.

Countries in southern Africa will now be subject to the same protocols that apply to all countries, with the requirement that incoming foreign travelers be fully vaccinated and present proof about a negative coronavirus test result within a day of their trip.

The restrictions drew immediate criticism from regional leaders, criticism from Mr Biden’s own party and international health officials.

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said: “Travel restrictions may play a role in mitigating the spread of Covid-19 but place a heavy burden on lives. and livelihood. “If restrictions are in place, they must not be intrusive or unnecessarily intrusive, and must be based on science.”

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