Biden denies travel ban will cause countries to hide new variants

President Joe Biden on Monday said he does not believe the travel restrictions he has imposed on eight African countries in hopes of slowing the spread of the omicron variant of Sars-CoV-2 to the US will dissuade other countries from reporting discovery of new variants.

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s what’s gonna happen,” Mr Biden said when asked about that possibility following remarks on the new variant in the White House’s Roosevelt room.

Mr Biden added that the reason for the restrictions was the “significant number of cases” in those countries compared with the rest of the world, and said the delay in omicron’s spread which he and his advisers hope it will cause should be used to give more Americans time to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“I think it’s almost inevitable there will be at some point that that strain here in the United States but I don’t I don’t think anyone’s gonna be reluctant to report,” he said.

The new travel restrictions, which went into effect at 12.01am on Monday, were announced by the White House on Friday. They restrict the entry of non-citizen, non-permanent residents into the United States if they are travelling from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe, or have been in those countries within two weeks of attempting to enter the US.

At the time, Mr Biden said the restrictions were being imposed as a “precautionary measure,” and later said the delay in their coming into force came after consultations with his Covid-19 response team, including White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci.

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