Public/Global Health

Gottlieb calls travel bans counterproductive after new African restrictions

Former Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb took to Twitter on Friday to criticize the U.S. travel ban on eight southern African countries announced by the White House over concerns about the new omicron coronavirus variant.

Gottlieb said that “it’s counterproductive in [the] short and long run to impose harsh travel restrictions on affected countries; hurting current containment efforts, discouraging future sharing.”

Gottlieb further added that there’s “too much we don’t know to impose economically, socially ruinous policies”

“Ready, fire, aim is not prudent public health policy. Vaccine and testing requirements for incoming travelers could be prudent,” he said

“Outright travel bans can hurt more than help,” Gottlieb tweeted.


The U.S. on Friday imposed strict travel restrictions on eight countries in southern Africa — South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi — starting Monday as a cautionary measure in light of the new COVID-19 variant.

The World Health Organization on Friday held an emergency meeting at which it identified omicron as a variant of concern, which identifies one as especially virulent, transmissible or able to defeat public health measures.
Multiple European countries including France and the U.K. have started to restrict flights from southern Africa due to concerns over the latest COVID-19 variant. The new strain has already also been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium, as well as South Africa.

South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said in response to a proposed European Union travel ban on Friday that the new restrictions are “unjustified.”

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic coronavirus restrictions coronavirus travel restrictions COVID-19 COVID-19 pandemic Scott Gottlieb

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