Omicron update: Will lift travel restrictions on southern African countries, says US
The White House announced on Friday that it will lift temporary travel restrictions on southern African countries on December 31.
White House spokesman Kevin Munoz in a tweet said: "The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron."
The United States had imposed travel restrictions on eight southern African countries including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi after South Africa detected the Omicron cases.
The White House spokesman said the decision to lift curbs was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
President Biden had said earlier the country was prepared to fight the new variant as the US administration put military doctors on alert and decided to push millions of Covid tests to be done at home.
The US president had asserted that the situation called for concern but people should not be panic. The United States is the worst-hit country due to the virus with over 51 million COVID-19 cases and over 815,420 fatalities.
The US had lifted travel restrictions on South Africa on November 8, however, after the country confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant the restrictions were reimposed.
The US government has made travel rules more stringent requiring international travellers to wear masks on planes and airports till March 18.