President Joe Biden imposed a travel ban on non-U.S. citizens who have recently been to South Africa.

The ban comes in an effort to control a new variant strain of COVID-19.

South Africa is the latest addition to the ban, as Biden has reimposed a travel ban on previously flagged locations such as 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,” said Dr Anne Schuchat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) principal deputy director.

“[We are] putting in place this suite of measures to protect Americans and also to reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic.”

The South African variant of COVID-19 is known as the “501Y.V2” variant. It is said to be 50% more infectious.

The travel bans come as a part of Biden’s aggressive approach to handling the COVID-19 situation. 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump had planned to lift those travel ban restrictions on Brazil and other countries just prior to leaving office. Biden’s decision will effectively reverse those plans.

“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.  In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”

Throughout the 2020 race, Biden repeatedly claimed that Trump fumbled the handling of the pandemic. 

During his inauguration speech, Biden said, “We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus and must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.”

Biden has criticized Trump’s vaccination efforts. Biden, upon entering the Presidency, adopted the moniker “Covid Response” for his vaccination, effectively getting rid of the name “Operation Warp Speed” that Trump used.

In addition to the travel bans, Biden had also mandated masks on all federal property, in an effort to combat COVID-19.

“It is the policy of my Administration to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures.  Such measures include wearing masks when around others, physical distancing, and other related precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… 

on-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines,” the White House posted in a press briefing.

Additionally, Biden is reversing Trump’s decision to leave the Word Health Organization.
The White House website said that it was a priority to “Immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic.”

Written ByLinn Win

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