Holiday travelers on alert after new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa

Biden administration to issue air travel restrictions from South Africa, 7 other countries as precaution

Leaders urging travelers to take extra precaution as Omicron variant spreads overseas

ORLANDO, Fla. – Holiday travel is ramping up at Orlando International Airport, with many passengers saying they are taking the necessary precautions to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 after news of a new variant being detected in South Africa.

One couple News 6 spoke with said they are worried about omicron, the new strain, but said they can’t stop their holiday plans.

“I’m really worried about the new strain coming in,” Fred Jones said as he sat with his wife at Orlando International Airport.

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Fred Jones and his wife, Georgianne, were going home to Detroit, Michigan, and said they’ve already taken precautions against omicron.

“Wearing a mask, as you can tell,” Georgianne said. ”Flying Southwest, we made sure we are doing a nonstop flight, just distance from when we are around people.”

The World Health Organization has designated omicron as a “variant of concern.”

It’s prompted President Joe Biden to issue air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries as a precaution.

Central Florida doctors agree with the steps from the Biden administration.

“It has more mutations than other coronaviruses, so that’s concerning. It appears it’s highly transmissible, although they haven’t absolutely proven it,” Seminole County Medical Director Dr. Todd Husty said.

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Fred Jones said this will not stop travel plans.

“You can’t predict what is going to happen tomorrow. When you wake up in the morning, you just got to go with it. We don’t know,” Jones said.

Georgianne said she hopes the U.S.’s current vaccination rates will be enough to halt the new variant.

“My hope is that people are kind and patient during this time, and just going about doing what you can, but be kind,” Georgianne said.

Health officials advise people to be cautious when making their travel plans for the holidays.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.