US CDC asks Americans to avoid travel to France, Portugal, Jordan over COVID-19 concerns

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Passengers wait in line inside the terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, US, on November 24, 2021. (Reuters photo)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised Americans against traveling to France, Jordan, Portugal, and Tanzania, citing the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.  

The CDC has so far listed 83 destinations at "Level 4: Very High" classification and also on Monday added Andorra, Cyprus and Liechtenstein to the highest travel advisory level, according to Reuters.

The new rules the United States has imposed require international air travelers arriving in the country to acquire a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel.

Previously, vaccinated international air travelers could submit a negative test result gotten within three days of their day of departure.

A CDC spokeswoman said, "CDC is exercising some enforcement discretion as this requirement is put in place."

The United States has already banned foreign nationals from entering the United States from eight southern African countries over fears of the spread of the Omicron variant.

 However, the travel ban on the African countries has not been extended to other countries where the new variant has been discovered.

The United Nations has denounced the travel restrictions on the African countries as “travel apartheid.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that the African travel restrictions were "being evaluated and discussed on a daily basis."

On Sunday, top US infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci has said the United States will “hopefully” be able to lift its travel ban on African countries “in a quite reasonable period of time.”

The White House chief medical adviser said some early data about the omicron data is “a bit encouraging,” and added that now the travel ban could be lifted.

“That ban was done at a time when we were really in the dark,” he said. “We had no idea what was going on, except that there seemed to have been an explosion of cases of omicron in South Africa.”

“So when the ban was put on, it was to give us time to figure out just what is going on,” he added.

The administration of US President Joe Biden last week implemented a ban to restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.

The administration said that the measure was taken out of an abundance of caution in light of the new variant.

The decision sparked an immediate backlash from the international community and public health experts, who say it is ineffective and punitive against African countries.





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