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The United States will restrict travel from South Africa and several other countries due to a new variant of COVID-19.
The White House announced the new rules on Friday, which come just weeks after the country reopens to international tourists with new entry rules.
The new rules, which come into force on Monday, apply to travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are excluded.
The policy was implemented out of “plenty of caution” in light of the new variant and in consultation with Anthony Fauci, the president’s medical director and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The World Health Organization on Friday declared the variant, omicron, a variant of concern. The first case was reported to the WHO on Wednesday from South Africa.
Several European countries and the United Kingdom have already taken steps to restrict travel to and from Africa since the new variant came to light.
Which US airlines serve Africa?
United and Delta are the only U.S. airlines to offer service between the U.S. and Africa.
United Airlines began offering flights between the United States and Africa, flights that only began earlier this year.
The Chicago-based airline offers non-stop flights between Newark and Johannesburg and Washington, DC, to Accra three times a week. Seasonal service in Cape Town is also due to resume in December.
“We are monitoring the situation, but we have no change to announce at this time,” United spokeswoman Nicole Carriere said in an email.
Delta offers service between Atlanta and Johannesburg and said it is also monitoring the situation.
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