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COVID Pandemic: Biden Administration Imposes Travel Ban on Eight African Nations amid ‘Omicron’ Variant

Brittany Jordan

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The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in an illustration released by the CDC in Atlanta, Ga., January 29, 2020. (Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via Reuters)

Amid the discovery of the new highly infectious “Omicron” variant of the coronavirus, the Biden administration has imposed a travel ban on eight African countries.

The restrictions apply to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi, a senior administrative official told Politico. While the order excludes American citizens or lawful permanent residents, they will need to present proof of a negative COVID test before re-entering the United States.

The prohibition on travel to the U.S. from these nations begins Monday following the holiday weekend. The decision was prompted by the World Health Organization’s emergency meeting Friday, in which the agency classified the emerging virus as a highly transmissible strain. A statement from the meeting confirmed that the variant has many mutations that could render it potentially resistant to the current vaccine as well as natural immunity provided by prior infection.

On Friday, stock indices tumbled as financial markets reacted to the shock. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped over 800 points just minutes into the market’s open. Shifting from inflation fears and the supply chain crisis, investors responded to the impending economic risk of the new COVID variant by ditching equities for “safe haven” assets as fixed income and gold.

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Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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