U.S. health official says 'everything on table' about possible UK travel ban

FILE PHOTO: Fauci, Redfield testify at U.S. Senate hearing on coronavirus response in Washington

By Reuters Staff

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States might decide to ban travel from the United Kingdom where a new variant of the coronavirus has spread, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said on Monday, but he added nothing had been decided yet.

"I think everything is possible. We just need to put everything on the table, have an open scientific discussion and make the best recommendation," he told CNN. He said the White House coronavirus task force would meet later on Monday.

A slew of countries suspended travel for Britons, including the U.S. northern neighbor Canada, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a mutated variant of the virus up to 70% more infectious had been identified in the country.

U.S. officials do not know if the variant has reached American shores, Giroir said.

"It was identified in September. So there's been a lot of travel back and forth. In general, the typical tests that we do to detect the virus, except for a very specific one, would not show this variant," he said. "It could be in the United States and we might not have yet detected it."