Anthony Fauci on Sunday said the U.S. will "hopefully" be able to lift its travel ban on African countries "in a quite reasonable period of time" as more information emerges regarding the omicron variant and its existence in the U.S.
"As we're getting more and more information about cases in our own country and worldwide we're looking at that very carefully on a daily basis. Hopefully we'll be able to lift that ban within a quite reasonable period of time," Fauci told co-host Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union."
He said the administration is reevaluating the policy "in real time, literally, on a daily basis."
The U.S. implemented a travel ban on individuals departing from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi last week in an effort to control the spread of the new COVID-19 omicron variant.
That move, however, has sparked backlash worldwide, especially after cases started being detected in U.S. states.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday said it was "deeply concerning" that African countries are being "penalized" with travel restrictions after detecting and reporting the omicron variant.
Fauci on Sunday said the administration implemented the travel restrictions at a time when the U.S. was "really in the dark" and "had no idea what was going on except that there seemed to have been an explosion of cases of omicron in South Africa."
He said the ban was implemented "to give us time to figure out just what was going on."