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Archive for November 30th, 2021

WHO and U.S. Government Responses to Omicron

The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron, as a Variant of Concern (VOC) on 11/26/2021.  WHO has asked countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts, submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database (eg, GISAID), report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism, and, where capacity exists, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC.  Also on 11/26/2021, President Biden issued a Proclamation suspending entry into the U.S. of noncitizens physically present within eight Southern African countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry.  Entry was allowed for citizens, lawful permanent residents, and certain family members if they met specified exceptions detailed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Assessment.  Future international travel to and from the U.S. will continue to be regulated by CDC guidance.  The CDC has also issued a media statement on Omicron, stressing the importance of following prevention strategies and getting fully vaccinated.