A day after it was discovered in North America, US President Joe Biden termed the Omicron Covid-19 variation a “cause for concern, not a cause for fear.”
“For the time being… if everyone are vaccinated and wearing their masks,” he stated, there is no need for a new lockdown.
Cases have been discovered in Canada, and the United States has issued travel prohibitions on eight nations in southern Africa.
Mr. Biden also stated that pharmaceutical firms are preparing contingency plans for new vaccines in the event that they are required.
On Monday, President Barack Obama claimed it was “virtually inevitable” that Omicron, which was initially discovered in South Africa, would ultimately be discovered in the United States.
“We’re going to combat this new version and defeat it,” he stated.
The United States banned flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi late last week. Travel from southern Africa has been banned in Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and other nations.
The Omicron variation was detected in two individuals who had recently traveled to Nigeria, Canada announced on Sunday. On Monday, a third case was disclosed.
Mr. Biden stated that the travel ban had given the US time to analyze the new version. While the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Omicron as a “variant of concern,” it is unclear if it is linked to increased transmission or an increased risk of vaccine evasion.
Critics pointed out that Mr Biden accused former President Donald Trump of “hysterical xenophobia” when Trump restricted travel from China in January 2020 due to the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, called the latest flight restrictions a “knee-jerk reaction.” In recent months, the state has taken efforts to prohibit the Covid-19 vaccination and mask regulations.
“We will not allow them jail you up in Florida,” Mr DeSantis added. “We will not allow them to seize your position. We will not allow them to harm your company. We will not allow your schools to shut.”
While Mr. Biden advised Americans to wear masks once again on Monday, he has been chastised for breaking his own regulations.
During his Thanksgiving holiday vacation in Nantucket, Massachusetts, he was seen without a mask covering his face, even inside a business with a notice on the window requesting customers to wear facial coverings.
On Monday, First Lady Jill Biden was chastised for not wearing a mask while reading to a group of masked and socially isolated students at the White House.
A federal court prevented the Biden administration from imposing a coronavirus vaccination obligation on thousands of healthcare workers in ten states earlier on Monday.
The judge concluded that government authorities had most likely exceeded their lawful authority.
A different law mandating enterprises with more than 100 employees to guarantee their personnel are vaccinated was placed on hold earlier this month by another court.