Biden Is Considering Lifting Travel Ban on Southern African Countries

Joseph B. Hash

President Biden stated he is contemplating lifting a journey ban he imposed previous month on non-U. S. citizen travelers from South Africa and 7 other southern African nations.

He told reporters at the White Residence on Tuesday that the Omicron variant’s extensive unfold in the U.S. could prompt him to lift the limitations. “Remember why I stated we set the journey ban on. It was to see how considerably time we experienced in advance of it hit here so we can start out to come to a decision what we essential by seeking up what was going on in other nations,” he stated. “But we’re earlier that now.”

Mr. Biden also outlined ideas to distribute 500 million cost-free at-home Covid-19 testing kits to People and steps to deploy federal health-related staff to overburdened hospitals this winter.

The Facilities for Sickness Handle and Avoidance stated Omicron experienced overtaken the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for an approximated 73% of infections for the 7 days ending Dec. 18.

Researchers are continue to striving to decide how transmissible Omicron is, and the severity of sickness it can bring about. Scientists learning infection costs in South Africa, the region wherever the variant was initially recognized, observed it was about 2 times as transmissible as the primary strain, and virtually one.4 situations as transmissible as Delta, stated

Wan Yang,

an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman Faculty of General public Wellness, who worked on the exploration.

Houston Methodist Medical center, which is sequencing viral samples from additional than 90% of people who go to and take a look at beneficial for Covid-19, observed that the time it will take for Omicron situations to double is a small additional than two days, in comparison to every five to 7 days for Delta variant situations, stated

James Musser,

who chairs the hospital’s pathology and genomic drugs department.

Dr. Musser stated it is much less apparent how severe the sickness prompted by Omicron infections will be in the U.S. mainly because people hospitalized with the variant are continue to likely as a result of the phases of the sickness. “By the New 12 months, we must have a affordable take care of on that,” Dr. Musser stated.

Harris County General public Wellness in Texas on Tuesday noted the initially Covid-19 demise in the county prompted by the Omicron variant. The affected individual was an unvaccinated gentleman amongst the age of 50 and 60 who experienced been infected with Covid-19 in the earlier, the agency stated. The particular person was also at greater chance of severe troubles because of to fundamental health conditions, which the agency did not specify. The CDC declined to comment on the Harris County demise and stated it doesn’t have a in depth demise or hospitalization rely for Omicron mainly because sequencing isn’t completed for every Covid-19 scenario.

Commuters at Waterloo Station on Tuesday in London, wherever Omicron is surging.


Stefan Rousseau/Zuma Press

Massachusetts Gov.

Charlie Baker,

citing a “critical staffing shortage” and substantial level of patients—many for non-Covid-19 reasons—activated up to 500 customers of the National Guard to assist hospitals and ambulance providers and directed health care facilities to postpone elective surgical procedures possible to consequence in clinic stays.

The Republican also issued a mask advisory, recommending that equally vaccinated and unvaccinated folks have on experience coverings in indoor general public spaces.

In Minnesota, Gov.

Tim Walz

stated he, his wife and teenage son all examined beneficial for Covid-19. Mr. Walz stated he isn’t going through signs.

Maryland Gov.

Larry Hogan

stated Monday that he also examined beneficial for Covid-19.

In spite of Omicron’s surge, U.S. carriers have stated they anticipate bustling flight exercise even as nations clamp down on journey. Some airways anticipate flights to be even fuller than they have been in excess of the Thanksgiving holiday break, when daily passenger volumes hit their optimum since the start out of the pandemic.

The pursuit of Omicron in the U.S. has been hampered by faltering regional Covid-19 tracking efforts that have atrophied in considerably of the U.S. in excess of the class of the pandemic. Gaps in the availability of exams and minimal potential to sequence variants is also obscuring the picture general public-health gurus have of Omicron’s unfold.

Walmart Inc.

questioned corporate staff who have returned to offices to get the job done from home as a result of “at least Jan. 10,” in a corporation electronic mail in excess of the weekend, citing the risks posed by the Omicron variant. The corporation also questioned corporate personnel to have on masks within offices regardless of vaccination position.

Arizona’s Pima County, which incorporates the town of Tucson, enacted a new mask mandate. The necessity was proposed in response to the quickly spreading Omicron variant and will be in place right until at least as a result of the finish of February.

Chicago Mayor

Lori Lightfoot

stated that starting off Jan. three, inhabitants will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination to enter places to eat, bars, physical fitness facilities and enjoyment venues that provide food items or beverages, as the town wrestles with a fifth wave of Covid-19.

The nation’s third-major town is seeing additional than one,seven hundred new situations of Covid-19 a day, up from additional than 300 a day and falling just a couple of months back.

Men and women waited in line for Covid-19 exams at a mobile testing web site in Situations Square in New York, on Monday.


Wang Ying/Zuma Press

An annual New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Los Angeles was canceled Monday for in-particular person attendees amid fears in excess of Omicron, following very similar steps in other metropolitan areas, which includes Paris and London.

Sweden declared new limitations as it faces a surge in coronavirus situations. The govt questioned everyone to get the job done from home and advised substantial colleges and greater-training institutions to start out remote teaching from Dec. 23.

There are also new restrictions on how many folks can acquire as the region prepares for Xmas: no additional than twenty folks at a desk privately if everyone has a vaccine pass, and only eight if they never have proof of vaccination. In places to eat and bars, only desk provider will be permitted.

In Denmark, wherever new limitations went into influence Sunday, daily coronavirus infections achieved a file. Omicron is now the predominant variant there, according to Wellness Minister

Magnus Heunicke

and the Danish Serum Institute.

Thailand, which depends greatly on tourism income, declared Tuesday that it would suspend a plan that will allow quarantine-cost-free entry for visitors, citing a mounting number of situations of the Omicron variant in the region. Individuals wishing to journey to Thailand will have to enter as a result of additional restrictive govt courses, this kind of as a single known as “Happy Quarantine” that involves prolonged stays in state-approved facilities for equally vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors, according to the nation’s tourism ministry.

The policy adjust is a main setback for Thailand’s battling hospitality market, which was hoping for reduction from a spurt of international visitors during the finish-of-year holiday seasons.

New Zealand’s system to little by little reopen its border has been delayed right until March to sluggish the arrival of Omicron, the govt stated Tuesday.

The region, which shut its border in March previous year as part of measures to halt the unfold of the coronavirus, experienced planned to make it possible for vaccinated citizens to return from mid-January with out undergoing quarantine.

Germany declared tighter curbs on social lifestyle to stem the unfold of the new variant. In accordance to the new measures, private gatherings will be minimal to 10 folks, night golf equipment will be shut and soccer online games will be played in vacant stadiums. The new limitations, decided at a Covid-19 summit amongst Chancellor

Olaf Scholz

and Germany’s sixteen state governors, will appear into power after Xmas, on Dec. 28, and implement to vaccinated folks and individuals who have recovered from Covid-19.

Germany also shortened the proposed amount of money of time amongst a second vaccine dose and a booster to 3 months, from previously five to six months, dependent on the state.

German authorities warned that vital infrastructure, this kind of as health care, offer chains, law enforcement and firefighting, could appear beneath risk as massive segments of personnel in individuals sectors may perhaps have to isolate at the exact time.

Bavaria State Premier

Markus Söder

stated that although Germans could rejoice Xmas with self-confidence, Omicron would be a severe challenge soon thereafter. Soon after struggling a massive wave in the latest months, Germany has in the latest days witnessed a sluggish decrease in new situations and hospitalizations.

“It doesn’t appear to be to be a wave, but a wall that is coming towards Germany,” he stated Tuesday.

Corrections & Amplifications
Joe Barrett contributed to this article. An before edition of this article incorrectly spelled his previous identify Barret. (Corrected on Dec. 21)

Publish to Andrew Restuccia at [email protected] and Stephen Fidler at [email protected]

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