Cape Town — United States President Joe Biden is set to ban most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in South Africa from entering the country, in a bid to contain the spread of a new variant of Covid-19, a senior U.S. public health official has told the Reuters news agency.
The agency reports that Biden will also reimpose an entry ban on nearly all non-U.S. travellers who have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders.
"We are adding South Africa to the restricted list because of the concerning variant present that has already spread beyond South Africa," Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's principal deputy director, in an interview with Reuters on Sunday January 24.
Al Jazeera reports that the move overturns a last-minute decision from former President Donald Trump that the restrictions on Brazil and Europe be lifted from January 26.
The new variant was identified late in 2020 by South Africa's Network for Genomic Surveillance. Scientists are concerned that the variant, called 501Y.V2, may spread much more efficiently between people, compared with other variants of SARS-CoV-2.