The United States on Sunday announced it was temporarily barring foreigners from seven nations, including South Africa, from entering the country unless they have a previously approved visa. The step, announced by the Department of Homeland Security, followed reports that the Department of Homeland Security had identified a new strain of Zika virus that was linked to a birth defect.
“Due to an increase in [the] number of travel-associated birth defects and neurological disorders, the U.S. public health community recommends that health care providers be especially vigilant for the potential development of brain abnormalities or other neurological birth defects associated with travel to certain areas of the world currently experiencing Zika virus activity,” according to the DHS announcement. “This travel restriction for admission of non-immigrant visa holders from these seven countries is effective immediately.”
South Africa was in the top 10 list of countries from which foreign nationals were ordered to leave the country, along with Nepal, France, Turkey, Spain, Bangladesh, India, and Hong Kong.
Even as the U.S. announced the decision, congressional sources told the Wall Street Journal that it was likely to be temporarily lifted when President Trump’s revised travel ban was finally signed by him after a five-month delay. The new ban, which limited entry to the country for nationals of six countries, will likely include South Africa and six others.
In its announcement, the DHS noted that the order was available in both English and Spanish and that Americans residing in the affected countries would be able to obtain medical care at the embassy level.
The Trump administration announced a travel ban in January that initially restricted travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and later narrowed the ban to include a four-country list before it was put on hold in the wake of legal challenges.