Biden ends travel restrictions for 8 African countries as Omicron wreaks havoc on the U.S.
President Joe Biden is revoking a travel ban for eight southern African countries that he had put in place on November 26.
At the time, the United States did not have cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
The American leader says the reversal is justified because Omicron is now widespread in the country.
Biden also claims that international travelers will go through a more rigorous testing process.
The president’s announcement was made on Tuesday, one day after the U.S. reported a record-breaking 512,553 new cases in one day.
The country is facing a surge in daily COVID-19 cases fueled by Omicron and the Delta variant, which is still a significant factor.
President Biden puts an end to travel restrictions
Mr. Biden has issued a proclamation that is overturning the travel ban for citizens from 8 countries in Africa.
The travel order targeted South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
The so-called travel ban will be officially lifted on December 31. Biden said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the scientific community support the change.
The president claims his administration now knows more about the Omicron variant.
However, the travel ban was always a bit problematic.
From the very beginning, members of the Biden administration had a lot of trouble explaining the reason behind the move.
While it made sense politically, the official data never seemed to align with Biden’s travel restrictions.
Biden was even criticized for seeming to punish the African nations who had discovered the new strain in the first place.
The change is part of a more significant shift in the way the Biden administration deals with COVID-19.
Biden administration changes quarantine guidelines
The number of new cases is reaching unprecedented levels, but the CDC is opting to give more leeway to those who have been vaccinated.
The CDC is changing guidelines for people who have been infected by the coronavirus but are asymptomatic. The quarantine has been shortened to five days minimum instead of ten.
The move is to prevent those mild cases from having too much of an impact on the economy.
It also seems the update would encourage those who are hesitant to get vaccinated.
The underlying message is that those who follow all the rules can get back to their routines in a quicker fashion, even when they catch the virus.
Vaccine hesitancy remains a problem for Biden
This push is necessary because only 62 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. This number is at over 70% in the United Kingdom. The U.S. is losing more people to COVID-19 when compared to other nations of the Group of 7.
Vaccine hesitancy and higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are said to be responsible for America’s higher COVID-19 death rate.
As New Year’s Eve approaches, the Biden administration is hoping for a change in attitude regarding vaccines.
Some experts are now openly saying that a fourth shot might be needed for better protection against severe forms of the virus.
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is said to be more transmissible than other strains.
However, it is also less deadly.
It is still not clear if it represents a new phase in the pandemic or the transition to a “new normal.”
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