Coronavirus vaccine: First dose figures surpass 46 million
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In a snub at pleas from EU and UK ministers, the White House broke their silence and today said the US would retain all “existing travel restrictions.” Business chiefs and UK politicians also say the opening up of US borders would be a boost to the aviation and tourism sectors.
But Karine Jean-Pierre, Deputy White House Press Secretary ruled out the decision due to a rise in cases of the Delta variant, first identified in India.
Speaking today, she added: “The administration understands the importance of international travel and is united in wanting to reopen international travel in a safe and sustainable manner.
“Given where we are today with the Delta variant, the United States will remain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons.
“The more transmittable Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world.
“Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated, and appear likely to continue — to increase in the weeks ahead.”
The White House also refused to rule out the border restrictions being in place for a long-term period.
A White House source said: “We certainly cannot rule out continuing to have these measures in place for the next few months if necessary.
“It’s certainly a big risk opening up our borders to the UK at the moment.”
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The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has described the Delta variant of COVID-19 to be as contagious as chickenpox and could cause severe illness.
In a summary report, the CDC also said the Delta variant was likely more severe than other variants and breakthrough infections may be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases.
The report also cites studies from Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that the Delta variant may pose a greater risk for hospitalisation, intensive care treatment and death than the Alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom.
But the CDC emphasised that COVID-19 vaccines were still highly effective at preventing infections, severe disease and death, and that breakthrough infections are uncommon.
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The US health authority also advised against travel to the United Kingdom despite fully vaccinated US and EU visitors being exempted from self-isolation if they arrive into the UK from Monday, August 2.
Under current rules, people arriving in the UK from amber list locations, such as the US, have had to have received both doses of a vaccine in the UK to avoid the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days.
The rules exclude those who have been inoculated elsewhere in the world.
Meanwhile, under US law, British nationals cannot enter the US if they have been in the UK, Ireland or the EU Schengen Area within the previous 14 days.
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