United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Friday thanked South African scientists for detecting the Omicron variant and prompting informing the world.
Blinken was speaking with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor to discuss the announcement lifting travel restrictions related to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
“The Secretary again thanked South Africa’s scientists and government for their transparency and expertise. He emphasized the importance of the longstanding partnership between the United States and South Africa to combat the impacts of COVID-19,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Officials announced on Friday morning that President Biden would be lifting the travel ban on South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Malawi on December 31 at 12.01 a.m.
Mr. Biden impossible the ban in the eight African nations on November 29 to control the spread of the variant.
Scientists and health experts blasted the ban on countries that had no cases of the variant at the time of the ban.
Many also warned that banning countries that detect a variant may complicate things and make others not to disclose it when they detect a new strain.
The United States continued to justify the ban on only African nations, dismissing concerns from the international community.