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🩺 Health🌍 World🦠Coronavirus

US braces for Omicron ahead of southern Africa travel ban

أمريكا تستعد لـ”أوميكرون” وتفرض حظراً على السفر من 8 دول أفريقية


WASHINGTON – Americans should prepare to eventually encounter the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, but U.S. health officials on Sunday said the travel ban starting Monday on most travelers from southern Africa should help buy time to assess any new risk.

Americans should prepare to eventually encounter the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, but U.S. health officials on Sunday said they hoped to buy time with a ban starting on Monday on most travelers from southern Africa.

“Inevitably, it will be here,” although no cases have been detected yet, the nation’s top infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told ABC News’ “This Week.”

Omicron which was first detected in southern Africa, has now been confirmed in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands and South Africa.

U.S. President Joe Biden, returning to Washington following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, said he would meet with his COVID-19 response team Sunday afternoon and have more to say later.

U.S. health officials will also speak with counterparts in South Africa on Sunday to get “more information in real time,” Fauci told NBC, adding the flight curbs would give them more time to gather information and weigh possible action.

It “is to get us better prepared, to rev up on the vaccination, to be really ready for something that may not actually be a big deal, but we want to make sure that we’re prepared for the worst,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Fauci told ABC it was too early to know whether new lockdowns or mandates are needed.

“It clearly is giving indication that it has the capability of transmitting rapidly. That’s the thing that’s causing us now to be concerned,” he added on NBC.

Potentially more contagious than previous variants, Omicron has sparked worries worldwide and rattled markets.

Its appearance in the United States, where 30% of the population has not gotten a single dose of vaccine, could threaten to undermine the nation’s recovery nearly two years after COVID-19’s emergence and further pressure local healthcare systems already taxed by the recent Delta variant.

Rising cases as colder weather forces more people indoors has also caused some hospital systems and U.S. states, including New York, to declare emergencies.

So far, nearly 782,000 people have died in the United States from COVID since early 2020, the most of any country in the world, amid over 48 million infections, Reuters data show.


The United States is joining other nations in seeking to block transmission by imposing travel restrictions.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET (0501 GMT) on Monday, it will bar entry of nearly all foreign nationals who have been in any of eight southern African countries within the last 14 days and has warned Americans against traveling to those nations.

Flights by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have continued from South Africa to the United States since the variant was discovered. The Centers for Disease Control did not immediately respond to a request for information about whether passengers from these flights were being screened.

Fauci and other top officials said the sudden burst of cases made Omicron worrisome and it remained unclear how current vaccines or therapeutics could be impacted.

“We need more data there before we can say confidently that this is not a severe version of the virus, but we should find that out in the next couple weeks,” outgoing National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told “Fox News Sunday.”

Vaccine makers Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have said they expect more information soon.

“We have to go through a couple of weeks yet of uncertainty,” Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Burton told CNN, saying Omicron’s transmissibility and severity were also still unknown along with current vaccines’ effectiveness against it.


واشنطن: قال مسؤولو الصحة في أمريكا يوم الأحد، إنَّهم يستعدون للظهور المحتمل للمتغير الجديد من سلالة فيروس كورونا “أوميكرون” في الولايات المتحدة مع توقُّعات ببدء فرض القيود اعتباراً من اليوم الإثنين على المسافرين القادمين من 8 دول في جنوب قارة أفريقيا.

طالع أيضاً: موديرنا: لقاح جديد مضاد لمتغير “أوميكرون” قد يكون جاهزاً مطلع 2022

أنتوني فوتشي، مدير المعهد الوطني الأمريكي للحساسية والأمراض المعدية، قال لبرنامج “ذيس ويك” على شبكة (إيه.بي.سي) الإخبارية الأمريكية: “حتماً سيأتي”، على الرغم من عدم اكتشاف حالات إصابة به بعد.

أضاف أنَّ مسؤولي الصحة في الولايات المتحدة سيتحدثون مع نظرائهم في جنوب أفريقيا في وقت لاحق اليوم الأحد، موضحاً أنَّ فرض الحظر على رحلات الطيران سيمنحهم مزيداً من الوقت لجمع معلومات وتقدير الإجراءات الممكن اتخاذها.

في تصريح منفصل لبرنامج “واجه الصحافة” على شبكة (إن.بي.سي) الإخبارية، قال، إنَّ ذلك “من أجل استعدادنا بشكل أفضل وزيادة سرعة التطعيم والاستعداد حقاً لشيء قد لا يكون في الواقع مشكلة كبيرة، لكن نريد التأكد من أنَّنا على استعداد للأسوأ”.

اكتُشف “أوميكرون” لأول مرة في جنوب أفريقيا، ورُصد منذ ذلك الحين في عدد متزايد من الدول.

فوتشي قال لشبكة (إيه.بي.سي)، إنَّ على الولايات المتحدة فعل “أي شيء، وكل شيء” وسط احتمالات رصد حالات إصابة محتملة بالمتحور الجديد، لكن “من السابق لأوانه القول” ما إذا كانت هناك حاجة لفرض عمليات إغلاق، أو القيام بإجراءات جديدة.

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