The United States said Monday that it is adding South Africa to the list of countries subject to travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of a new strain of COVID in the African nation.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary for the new Biden administration, said the decision comes as the pandemic worsens in many countries and more contagious variants continue to spread.
“This isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel, and in light of the contagious variant B-1351 (501Y.v2), South Africa has been added to the restricted list,” said Psaki during a routine press briefing.
Beginning Tuesday, all international travelers bound for the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID test taken within three days of their departure and provide that to the airline carrier.
“The president is taking these steps on the advice of his COVID-19 and medical team,” Psaki explained.
The Biden administration, still in its first week, seeks to elevate the U.S. pandemic response with measures that in some cases reverse previous decisions made by former U.S. President Donald Trump. They include previously lifted but reinstated travel restrictions for Brazil, the United Kingdom and most European nations.
South Africa’s update for January 25 now lists 1.42 million cases in the country, with 41,117 fatalities. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said 243 of the COVID-19 related deaths are new, with the majority of them coming from Eastern Cape (65), KwaZulu-Natal (60) and Western Cape (57).
Image: OR Tambo/Airports SA