WASHINGTON, — U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday announced an array of new measures in fighting COVID-19 as two confirmed cases of Omicron have been reported in the country.
“It’s the combined advice from all of you that we developed this plan, and it doesn’t involve shutdowns or lockdowns but widespread vaccinations, and boosters, and testing and a lot more,” Biden said in a speech at the National Institutes of Health.
Biden said the measures would allow schools and businesses to stay open while keeping Americans safe. “We’re going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion,” he said.
The new actions include increasing vaccine outreach across the United States, tightening pre-departure COVID-testing protocol for all inbound international travelers, and requiring a negative test within one day of departure for the United States.
Earlier, the Biden administration has announced restrictions of travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries where the Omicron variant was identified.
It also announced a plan to extend a mask requirement for domestic travel, originally slated to expire in January, until mid-March.
The second U.S. case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant was found in the midwestern state of Minnesota on Thursday, a day after the first case was confirmed in California. ■ Xinhua