The United States government has disclosed that the travel ban imposed on eight southern African countries will be lifted on December 31.
In November, the US announced that foreigners who have travelled to eight southern African countries within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter the country over concerns related to the Omicron COVID variant.
The affected countries are South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The index case of Omicron was detected in South Africa and the World Health Organisation (WHO) subsequently designated Omicron as a “variant of concern”.
Owing to the detection of the new COVID variant, many countries imposed travel restrictions on African countries a move that was criticized by WHO.
Announcing the suspension of the travel ban, Kevin Munoz, a White House spokesperson, in a tweet on Friday, said the decision was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Munoz disclosed that the restrictions gave US the opportunity to understand the Omicron variant, adding that existing vaccines can tackle the variant.
“On Dec. 31, @POTUS will lift the temporary travel restrictions on Southern Africa countries. This decision was recommended by @CDCgov. The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp boosted,” the tweet reads.