Washington –The White House announced, Monday, the signing of an executive measure reimposing travel restrictions for COVID-19 on non-US travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders.
The White House press secretary, Jane Psaki, also confirmed that South Africa would be added to the banned list due to concerns about a type of virus that has spread outside that country.
“This is not the time to lift the restrictions imposed on international travel,” Psaki told a news conference.
Leading US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci described Mr. Biden’s decision as “wise” in a round of TV interviews on Monday.
“We have concerns about the boom that is in South Africa,” Fauci said He said, “CBS this morning.” “We are looking at it very actively. It is clearly different and more dangerous than the one in the UK, and I think it is very wise to restrict travel by non-citizens.”
Biden has rescinded an order President Donald Trump issued in his final days in office that called for travel restrictions to be eased starting Tuesday. Mr. Trump’s move was taken in conjunction with a new requirement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all international travelers to the United States get a negative COVID-19 test within three days of their boarding.
The Biden team announced that it would reimpose travel restrictions, but the addition of South Africa to the travel restrictions list highlights the new administration’s concern about mutations in the virus.
The South African variant was not discovered in the US, howeverOriginated in the UK – discovered in several states.
Fauci said there is a “very slight and modest decrease” in the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against those variants, but “there is adequate protection from the vaccines that we have that we still consider effective against the UK and southern African strain.”
But he warned of the possibility of more mutations and said scientists were preparing to adapt vaccines if needed.
“We really need to make sure that we get started, and we really have, preparedness if the vaccines need to be upgraded,” Fauci said. “We are already taking steps in this direction despite the fact that the vaccines we have now are working.”