(CNN) — US public health officials are not currently advising the White House to step up restrictions on travel from the UK, even as a large number of countries suspended flights from there after a new variant of the coronavirus was discovered.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that while the United States “definitely has to watch it,” they don’t want to “overreact.” And he said he would advise against suspending flights from the UK if the issue comes up during a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force on Monday.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, also told another member of the coronavirus task force, Admiral Brett Giroir, that he currently does not recommend restrictions of additional trip.
Fauci said that while he was not criticizing other countries that have suspended travel from the UK, at this time he would not recommend that the United States take that step.
“Monitor it carefully, but don’t overreact,” Fauci said of the new variant.
Fauci said he believes UK officials are doing the right thing by closely monitoring the new variant. England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned Saturday that the new variant “may spread more quickly.” He also said it was responsible for 60% of new infections in the capital. However, he cautioned that there is currently no evidence to suggest that the new variant is more deadly. There is also no evidence that it would neutralize the efficacy of recently approved vaccines.
Other countries’ restrictions on UK travel
As of Monday, dozens of countries in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas had announced travel bans for the UK. Others, like Greece and Spain, have imposed restrictions that require travelers arriving from there to undergo coronavirus tests or quarantine.
Canada announced a travel ban starting at midnight on Sunday for at least 72 hours. In South America, Argentina, Chile and Colombia have suspended all direct flights to and from the UK. El Salvador has prohibited anyone from entering the country from the United Kingdom.
France, meanwhile, announced a temporary ban on all travel and escorted freight on Sunday night, which could spell disaster for trade between the two countries. France said it was working to implement a health protocol at the European level that would allow cargo to start being transported again.
On Monday morning, Giroir, the White House coronavirus testing specialist, told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” that there was currently no information on a possible UK travel restriction to or from the United States. United due to the new variant.
“I think we are waiting for the kind of recommendations from the CDC. Speaking with Dr. Redfield last night, there was no recommendation on that. Once again, every hour we receive more information. I think that, as we have done and we have to do, we have to listen to the best experts, “he said. And he noted that a meeting of the coronavirus task force would be held later Monday.
«I believe that everything is possible. We just have to put everything up for discussion, have an open scientific discussion and make the best recommendation, “he said when asked if a travel ban was possible.
CNN’s Nectar Gan, Luke McGee, and Andrea Diaz contributed to this report.
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