Biden Admin Ponders Harsh New Travel Restrictions Over Omicron

( – A South African researcher alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) to a new, highly mutated variant of the COVID-19 virus that the group has since declared is one “of concern” and designated Omicron. The United States quickly closed its borders to noncitizens if they had been in certain African countries within the 14 days preceding their attempt to enter the country. Now, President Joe Biden is mulling over additional restrictions.

Early indications show this variant is highly transmissible, and immunizations for previous COVID-19 variants may not deter it, as evidenced by the first case confirmed in the United States — a fully vaccinated traveler. Health organizations worldwide are advising further study to determine how dangerous Omicron might be, but early patients seem to be exhibiting only mild symptoms.

The administration is considering new rules, including having all international passengers confirm a negative test result no more than one day before they depart from a foreign country. Incoming travelers would need to commit to another test no more than 3-5 days after arrival.

Another reported option on the table includes asking all international travelers entering the US, including American citizens, to self-quarantine for seven days regardless of vaccination or test status. Some media outlet headlines are trumpeting a promise by President Biden not to resort to a new round of lockdowns. Still, that promise was apparently conditional upon people vaccinating and wearing masks.

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