Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the Biden administration “feels very badly” about the impact caused by the travel restrictions imposed on South Africa and other nearby countries to limit the spread of the Omicron variant and is reevaluating the ban.
“We all feel very badly about the hardship that might have put upon not only South Africa, but the other African countries. And for that reason, in real-time, literally, on a daily basis…. we’re reevaluating that policy,” Fauci told anchor Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of Union.”
Fauci said the restrictions to South Africa, where the variant first was detected, and seven other countries were a preemptive measure.
“That ban was done at a time when we were really in the dark. We had no idea what was going on, except it does seem to have been an explosion of cases of Omicron in South Africa,” Fauci said.
“So when the ban was put on, it was put to give us time to figure out just what is going on,” he added.
President Biden announced the decision to restrict travel last month from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
Though South Africa first detected the variant, it has since spread to at least 40 countries, including the US.
The World Health Organization has classified Omicron as a variant of concern, though more research is needed about whether it causes more severe cases.
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