Omicron is not a cause for panic, says Biden

The new type “is a cause for concern, it is not a cause for panic,” Biden said.

The United States is in a good position to control the spread of the omicron variety without resorting to “curfews” or new travel restrictions alongside those already in place in eight southern African countries, the president stressed.

“We have more tools today to combat this type than ever before,” he said.

Senior medical adviser Anthony Fauch predicts that the current vaccines will also work against the new strain, boosting protection with support vaccines, he added.

“We will fight this type with scientific and competent steps and pace, not chaos and confusion,” Biden said at the White House, alongside Fauci and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Biden promised a “detailed strategy” to fight Covid-19 this winter, but signaled that Americans would not be subject to severe restrictions.

“Not with closures and ‘arcades’, but with more vaccinations, booster vaccinations, tests and more,” said Biden, noting the need for mandatory vaccination or testing requirements for domestic flights.

The United States, Canada and the European Union have imposed significant restrictions on entry from a number of southern African countries.

Scientists in the Republic of South Africa reported on Thursday that they had identified a new variant of Covid-19 with a large number of mutations responsible for the rapid increase in infections.

In South Africa, the worst affected country in Covid-19, the number of new infections registered in a single day has increased tenfold since the beginning of the month, from 106 to around 1,200.

In response, many countries, including the European Union (EU), have suspended flights from southern Africa.

Scientists believe the new variant may be more contagious than the Covid-19 delta or Indian variant, as well as more resistant to current Covid-19 vaccines. The 15th letter of the Greek alphabet – omicron – has been assigned to denote the new type of virus.

“I don’t expect any more travel bans,” Biden said.

“The degree of spread will affect whether or not there will be a need for any travel restrictions,” he said.

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