Dr. Fauci defends southern Africa travel restrictions over Omicron variant

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During a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci was pressured into why the Biden administration restricted travel to the US from eight countries in southern Africa – when only two of them tested positive for the Omicron version of COVID-19. cases have been reported.,

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Simon Ateba of TODAY News Africa asked, “There are zero cases of COVID – Omicron in Zimbabwe, in Namibia, in Lesotho, in Mozambique.” “What is the rationale for imposing travel restrictions on countries that have zero cases of the Omicron variant?”

“You know it’s a very good question and an important question, and we fought with it,” Fauci replied. “But we wanted to see if we could buy time temporarily, so I hope this is sorted out and removed before it makes any significant impact on your country.”

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African leaders and global health officials have lifted travel restrictions, using language similar to statements from then-candidate Biden after former President Donald Trump restricted travel to China and Europe in the early days of the pandemic.

In February 2020, a day after Trump announced a ban on travel from China, Biden tweeted: “We are in the middle of the crisis of coronavirus. We need to move forward with science—not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed that the Biden administration is trying to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in African countries.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
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“A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel to or from Europe or any other part of the world will not stop it. This disease can affect every country and any person in the world – and we need a plan to deal with it.” Former Vice President tweeted in March.

Biden eventually imposed sanctions until November – as long as Trump wanted to end them.

Passengers wait to board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 846 on December 1, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Passengers wait to board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 846 on December 1, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa.
David Silverman/Getty Images)

The eight countries covered by the latest ban are Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe. Of them, only South Africa and Botswana have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

Over the weekend, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera called the restrictions a case of “Afrophobia”.

Dr. Anthony Faucik, Chief Medical Adviser to the White House
Dr Fauci promised that current travel restrictions for Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe would eventually be lifted.
Stephanie Reynolds / CNP / MediaPunch

“We are all concerned about the new COVID variant and thank the scientists in South Africa for identifying it before anyone else,” he said in a statement. facebook post sunday, “But the one-way travel ban is now imposed on SADC” [Southern African Development Community] UK, EU, US, Australia and other countries are unnecessary. COVID measures should be based on science and not on Afrophobia.

Fauci was also asked during the briefing about New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent order to postpone elective surgery at hospitals where capacity is limited before an expected COVID surge during the winter months.

Passengers wait to board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 846 in Cape Town, South Africa on December 1, 2021, one of the few international flights leaving the country's second-busiest airport after other flights were canceled is one.
Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera called the current travel restrictions in African countries “Afrophobia”.
David Silverman / Getty Images

“I really don’t want to comment on situations in different states because the factors are very different from state to state,” he replied. “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on whether a state should postpone elective surgery.”

The statement represented a change of tune for Fauci, who had previously considered the actions of officials in several states during the height of the pandemic. In March, for example, the White House health authority criticized Texas and Mississippi for lifting the mask mandate, calling it “inexplicable.”

Dr. Anthony Faucik, Chief Medical Adviser to the White House
Dr Fauci says it is too early to say whether states like New York “should or should not postpone elective surgery.”
EPA / Jim Lou Scalzo / Pool

In addition to travel restrictions, the administration is also moving to implement new testing requirements for those traveling to the US.

The move has not been formally announced, which would require all air travelers – US citizens and foreign nationals alike – to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departure.

Passengers wait to board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 846 in Cape Town, South Africa on December 1, 2021, one of the few international flights leaving the country's second-busiest airport after other flights were canceled is one.
The Biden administration is considering COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers traveling to the US.
David Silverman / Getty Images

“As you advise the president about the possibility of new testing requirements for people coming into this country, is that covered by everyone?” Granthshala News correspondent Peter Ducey asked Fauci.

“The answer is yes,” Fauci said. “Because you know that new — new regulation, if you want to call it that, is that anyone coming into the country needs to be tested within 24 hours of getting on the plane to get here.”

“What about people who don’t take planes – just these coming in large numbers from across the border?” Doosy pushed.

“That’s a different issue,” Fauci replied defying the question.

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