Dr. Anthony Fauci says that officials “feel bad” about slapping a travel ban on seven African countries, now that the omicron variant has been confirmed in several other countries.
Fauci explained that, at the time the travel ban was imposed, not much was known about the omicron variant and the administration felt it was better to be safe than sorry.
Some nations affected by the travel ban were upset, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling it “travel apartheid.”
But Fauci now says that with “more information,” the travel ban will be lifted in a “reasonable period of time.”
“That ban was done at a time when we were really in the dark – we had no idea about what was going on, except that there had been an explosion of cases of omicron in South Africa,” Fauci said on “State of the Union.” “So when the ban was put on, it was to give us time to figure out what was going on.”
“Now that we have more and more information about cases in our own country and worldwide, we’re looking at that very carefully on a daily basis,” Fauci continued. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to lift that ban in a quite reasonable period of time.”
Fauci added that officials felt “very badly” about the “hardship” the travel ban may have created for the southern African countries.
In fact, the African countries are livid at the west for singling them out, when some of the countries included in the ban have not had a single case of the omicron variant.
“We are all concerned about the new Covid variant and owe South Africa’s scientists our thanks for identifying it before anyone else did,” Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “But the unilateral travel bans now imposed on [Southern African Development Community] countries by the UK, EU, US, Australia, and others are uncalled for. Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia.”
Biden’s travel ban was a classic move by a president who wants to be seen as “doing something about the problem.” It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be necessary. As long as Biden’s PR people can spin the action as addressing the arrival of the omicron variant in the United States, it’s a plus for Biden.
“It’s deeply concerning to me that those countries are now being penalized by others for doing the right thing. We call on all countries to take rational, proportional risk reduction measures in keeping with international health regulations,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his opening remarks at a WHO briefing Wednesday.
Biden is less concerned with “rational, proportional risk reduction” and more with how his policies score with focus groups.
Indeed, the notion that the spread of the omicron variant could have been stopped is ludicrous. It can be 14 days before symptoms present themselves. Think where you were two weeks ago and everywhere you’ve been until now. How many people did you come in contact with?
When a person can be in New York for breakfast and Tokyo at dinnertime, there is little chance of containing a virus that’s as contagious as the omicron variant.