ATLANTA – After the discovery of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 in southern Africa, many travelers are hesitant to complete their travel plans.
A World Health Organization panel says the Omicron variant could be even worse than the Delta variant. They said it could have a higher risk of re-infection for people with COVID-19.
The US government is taking early action against the virus although it has yet to be detected in the United States. President Biden instituted a travel ban in eight African countries where variant cases have been detected: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mizambique and Malawi.
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Michele Newell of Channel 2 spoke with some travelers who are a little nervous about traveling after hearing about the variant.
Alan Byrd’s son and grandchildren, whom he has not seen for over a year, live in Zambia. While not on the list of countries where travel is banned, Byrd says he’s not sure if he should complete his visit plans.
“I don’t know if I want to end this flight now because I don’t want to get there and get stuck,” Newell said after arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for the flight. “[I’m] very concerned about it. I am a senior with underlying health issues.
Byrd’s flight was scheduled for an 18-hour layover in Johannesburg, South Africa, which worried him.
“I don’t think it’s good for you to travel right now, dad. Okay, I’ll talk to them and see about the rescheduling, ”Byrd’s son told him over the phone.
Byrd canceled his flight.
Other travelers, though worried, continued with their plans.
“I was concerned about the security measures but I think the airlines I chose have good measures,” said Vinayak Daramwer, who was flying to India.
Delta Airlines flies from Johannesburg to Atlanta three times a week.
Delta says there are currently no plans to make any adjustments, but will work closely with the government to monitor the variant and travel restrictions.
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The new variant has not been detected in Georgia. The state’s public health department said it is closely monitoring the variant and continues to urge Georgians to get vaccinated.
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