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Fauci: U.S. re-evaluating southern Africa travel ban, 'hopefully' it will be lifted

Dozens of countries, including the U.S., rushed to restrict travelers from southern African last week as omicron emerged.

WASHINGTON — The government's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday he hopes the ban on travelers from southern African countries can be lifted in a "reasonable period of time" as more information about the omicron variant of the coronavirus is gathered.

The U.S. last week banned entry by people traveling from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi to control the spread of the emerging omicron variant.

The move has drawn backlash from around the world, particularly as cases of infection with the variant have been found in the U.S.

"As we're getting more and more information about cases in our own country, and worldwide we're looking at that very carefully on a daily basis, hopefully we'll be able to lift that ban within a quite reasonable period of time," Fauci said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

The Biden administration is re-evaluating the policy "in real time, literally, on a daily basis," he said.

The omicron variant, which the World Health Organization has classified as a variant of concern, is blamed for a recent surge of cases in South Africa, and it has sparked fears about its high number of mutations, which could make it more transmissible than previous variants and resistant to vaccines.