The United States will restrict entry to travelers from eight southern African countries over concerns about a new COVID-19 variant found in South Africa, President Joe Biden said on Friday.
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Ironically, President Biden accused former President Trump of being xenophobic when he implemented a similar ban.
“The pandemic has unleashed familiar forces of hate, fear and xenophobia that he always flames … that have always existed in this society,” Biden said in a speech in 2020. “But this president brought it with him, has brought with it a new rash of racial messages, verbal and physical attacks and other acts of hate, some subtle, some overt, against the Asian American and Pacific Islanders.”
The restrictions will be effective Monday and apply to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
“As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries,” Biden said in a statement. “These new restrictions will take effect on November 29. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises.”
The administration official said the restrictions are being “implemented out of an abundance of caution in light of a new COVID-19 variant circulating in Southern Africa.”
If in fact this so-called new variant is as dangerous as they say it is — why wait until Monday for implementation?
Following is Biden’s full statement:
This morning I was briefed by my chief medical advisor, Dr. Tony Fauci, and the members of our COVID response team, about the Omicron variant, which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises.White House
For now, I have two important messages for the American people, and one for the world community.
First, for those Americans who are fully vaccinated against severe COVID illness – fortunately, for the vast majority of our adults — the best way to strengthen your protection is to get a booster shot, as soon as you are eligible. Boosters are approved for all adults over 18, six months past their vaccination and are available at 80,000 locations coast-to-coast. They are safe, free, and convenient. Get your booster shot now, so you can have this additional protection during the holiday season.
Second, for those not yet fully vaccinated: get vaccinated today. This includes both children and adults. America is leading the world in vaccinating children ages 5-11, and has been vaccinating teens for many months now – but we need more Americans in all age groups to get this life-saving protection. If you have not gotten vaccinated, or have not taken your children to get vaccinated, now is the time.
Finally, for the world community: the news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations. The United States has already donated more vaccines to other countries than every other country combined. It is time for other countries to match America’s speed and generosity.
In addition, I call on the nations gathering next week for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to meet the U.S. challenge to waive intellectual property protections for COVID vaccines, so these vaccines can be manufactured globally. I endorsed this position in April; this news today reiterates the importance of moving on this quickly.