The U.S. will limit travel from Africa to try to prevent the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. Starting Monday, travel will be restricted from South Africa and seven other countries due to the heavily-mutated strain. That includes Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. The precautionary move comes just weeks after pandemic-related travel restrictions were lifted for visitors to the U.S. from about 30 countries. The White House says the new travel restrictions will not apply to American citizens who still must show proof of a negative test before returning to the U.S.
The World Health Organization is calling the new COVID strain a variant of concern. The WHO also named the South African variant "Omicron," identifying it by the Greek letter because of its large number of mutations. In a statement, WHO officials say preliminary evidence points to an increased risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant. It noted cases of the variant seem to be going up in nearly all of the provinces in South Africa.