Biden South Africa travel ban announced hours after Fauci said White House didn’t know enough to implement ban Fast travel ban on top-tier US officials follows memo – despite US doctors telling Trump administration that no action was necessary against health professionals travelling to Africa Source of controversy: US health experts who said banning travel to Africa could put healthcare workers at risk. Photograph: Stephanie Keith/AP
Biden South Africa travel ban announced hours after Fauci said White House didn’t know enough to implement ban
The United States government has imposed a broad travel ban on top-tier officials from countries in Africa following a memo to Donald Trump that recommended such a ban be put in place, despite the fact that US medical professionals warned that such action could put health workers at risk.
The decision, which was announced on Wednesday, marked the first time the White House had publicly put forward a proposed ban on top officials entering the US, although the State Department has previously put forth several proposals for travel restrictions based on nationality.
The new policy appears to be a response to a note that the White House sent to agencies on Tuesday telling them to draft such restrictions, according to a state department official who confirmed the memo to the Associated Press.
The memo instructed US embassies around the world to consider any requests from countries to curtail travel from certain areas in the country to help create better partnerships with those countries. At a hearing on Wednesday, Dr Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledged that such a ban would be unwise and said that such a move could put American health workers at risk if they are sent to countries like Libya.
Biden South Africa travel ban: medical officials told there was no need for action against health professionals. Click to read more.
The memo, which was first reported by the New York Times, came as the US grapples with increasing public scrutiny over the administration’s actions abroad. On Tuesday, at a Senate hearing, Tom Faugno, the deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, testified that officials in the State Department were considering travel restrictions based on nationality.
While the memo did not directly address travel from particular countries, Faugno said the departments of state and homeland security were considering including African countries in an action plan that could create wider restrictions. The White House and the State Department declined to comment further.
The White House memo, reportedly sent at the behest of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was reportedly prompted by Khadija Sharife, a retired doctor from the African Children’s Union, who said she had been asked by a US official to visit Liberia to assess cases of Marburg virus, a viral disease that is highly contagious.
That official was turned away from Liberia on 2 January, the same day Marburg was discovered for the first time in the country, reportedly after the Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, sent letters to African leaders encouraging a ban on visitors from a number of countries.
Since then, the US has imposed travel restrictions based on country, not specific individuals, according to the Associated Press.
South Africa, Kenya banned from visa-free travel to US for sending doctors Read more
South Africa said it had received a statement from the State Department on Wednesday morning telling its officials that South Africa had been placed on a “tourist/fly-in visa-free” list, while Kenya and Nigeria have been placed on the list of countries designated for restricted visa processing.
A travel ban to Africa would be a rare move by Trump, who has made international travel his first priority on the international stage.
Thomas Goldstone, a healthcare adviser at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Congress earlier on Wednesday that international health workers are being targeted for targeting, specifically, by western nations who are seeking to make sure their populations are healthy, and that this could endanger both public health and US health workers in those countries.
In response to claims that his department was considering a travel ban that would ban African medical professionals from entering the US, Dr Faugno emphasized that US agencies have no such policy.
“A possible action plan for Liberia is not a visa ban, but an attempt to create a more comprehensive partnership with these countries on issues where we do share interests with them,” he said.