On Friday, US President Joe Biden announced additional travel restrictions for countries in Southern Africa, joining attempts by other countries to stop the spread of a potentially lethal new COVID-19 variant that has roiled global markets.

According to top government officials, travel from South Africa and seven other nations would be restricted beginning Monday. In a statement, Biden described the move as a "precautionary action until [they] gather more knowledge," as per Bloomberg via MSN.

Besides Africa, the other nations that are also affected are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. According to administration officials, the regulation does not apply to American citizens and lawful permanent residents though they must still test negative before traveling to the United States.

Countries impose travel restrictions for Southern Africa

The restriction might exacerbate fears about the variant, which sparked a market sell-off as investors analyzed new information about its strength and distribution. Biden told reporters that the new variant is of considerable alarm since it appears to spread rapidly, but that investors selling shares were anticipated - they usually do when COVID-19 increases.

As an increasing list of countries pushed to prohibit travel from the region, the World Health Organization designated the mutated virus, now known as Omicron, as a "variant of concern." Earlier in the day, countries across Europe, as well as Canada, suspended aviation traffic from southern Africa.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical advisor, told CNN on Friday morning that news of COVID-19 spreading throughout Africa, now known as Omnicron by the World Health Organization (WHO), was raising a "red flag that this may be a problem we don't know" and that testing was necessary.

It's unclear what further evidence, if any, drove the administration's decision on Friday to impose travel restrictions on eight nations. Biden stated that he reached the decision after meeting with Fauci.

Per Fox News, similar travel restrictions will be implemented in almost a dozen additional nations, including the United Kingdom. Citizens and legitimate permanent residents of the United States will be exempted from the travel restrictions, but all overseas passengers must test negative before traveling.

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Biden vows again to vaccinate Americans

Biden also reaffirmed his proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remove patent protections for COVID-19 vaccinations, a position that is opposed by pharmaceutical corporations, which stand to benefit billions from the vaccines. As requests for measures to make the vaccine more accessible in impoverished nations rose, he originally approved the notion early this year.

The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has more mutations than previous COVID-19 virus variants, and scientists have yet to determine whether it is more transmissible though the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about whether the Omicron variant poses a higher risk of reinfection.

This increased chance of reinfection is concerning because many people who survive COVID-19 experience long-term adverse effects like loss of taste and smell, as well as some respiratory problems. As a second and more deadly illness, this might leave people severely disabled or possibly dead.

On Friday, the United States was not the only country to take action. Following the United Kingdom's decision on Thursday, just over a quarter of the European Union's member states opted to impose travel restrictions as well.

Later, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he and his family were spending Thanksgiving, Biden answered questions from reporters about the matter. During a brief press conference, the president stated that he is not concerned about a stock market decline as a result of the development of a new variant as this has happened in the past, The Independent reported.

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