SAN FRANCISCO, Cali - Starting Monday, the U.S. will impose travel restrictions to and from eight countries in the southern part of Africa. This is in response to the World Health Organization naming the new "omicron" variant a "virus of concern."
The new variant is now on the minds of some heading home, or elsewhere, for Thanksgiving.
Leaders in Europe are now detecting some cases of COVID-19 linked to the new variant; it was first detected in South Africa a few days ago.
Now, the U.S. is joining several other nations, including the UK and European Union, in imposing travel bans to South Africa and seven other nations.
The World Health Organization and one UCSF infectious disease expert advise against that.
"Travel restrictions don't stop a transmissible respiratory virus," said Dr. Monica Gandhi.
"It just goes everywhere. That's what respiratory viruses do. The WHO is against travel restrictions and I agree with them."
The WHO says they don't know much about the omicron variant, but are still learning. The world agency says the variant seems to be more transmissible, but there is not yet proof that is is evading vaccines or causing a more severe case of COVID.
Vice President Kamala Harris says the US is taking it "one step at a time" when asked about whether more restrictions will be imposed on other countries in the future. Travel experts say brace for the possibility.
"Take a wait and see approach," said Gabe Saglie with TravelZoo.
"You want to stay super informed, stay aware of the news of the day. If you have reservations in place, keep an eye on them. It's not impossible for airlines to switch timing of upcoming reservations as demand waivers up and down."
Some frequent flyers, however, say the vaccines and boosters make them feel safe enough to travel anywhere.
"We've had our vaccinations, we've had our boosters, we've had our negative tests, that will get us to our destination," said Elmer Otteson, a traveler heading to Europe.
The new restrictions take effect Monday.