COVID-19 Omicron variant activates US travel bans

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 5:52 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As a new COVID-19 variant spreads new restrictions are in effect for some travelers. Starting Monday, the U.S. is putting restrictions on flights from some countries where the Omicron variant has been detected.

The travel ban is in effect for travelers from South Africa and seven other African countries where the Omicron variant was first detected this month.

And several other countries are also initiating travel bans from those southern African nations.

On Sunday evening, Canadian officials announced the country’s first confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. And top health officials in the U.S. speculate the new variant is already in the states.

Baptist Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steven Threlkeld says it is concerning that the variant comes as holiday travel increases.

He encourages vaccinations as we approach Christmas, and we plan to see loved ones who are elderly to help ensure their safety.

“We should switch our behavior in this pandemic now to protecting those people who can’t be protected themselves, and there are a substantial number of those people out there,” said Threlkeld.

Mid-South governors are also strongly encouraging folks to get vaccinated to prepare for the arrival of the variant.

Both Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves appeared on network news programs over the weekend with that very message.

So far, 50% of Arkansas’s population is vaccinated, 44% of Mississippi’s population is, and just over 49% of Tennessee’s population is vaccinated.

The new variant has yet to be officially diagnosed in the U.S.

As for the latest U.S. travel restrictions, they do not affect American citizens or permanent U.S. residents.

Later Monday, President Joe Biden is expected to give an update on the Omicron variant.

We’ll stream it live when it happens on and our streaming platforms.

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