The US will see cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant "sooner or later," but this is no reason to panic, said President Joe Biden on Monday.
Speaking at a press briefing on the new variant after meeting with top health officials at the White House, Biden said American states "will have to face this new threat" and urged Americans to protect themselves against it through vaccination.
"This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic," said Biden, adding that the best protection against it is getting fully vaccinated or, if a person is already fully vaccinated, getting a booster shot.
On the US’ new restrictions on travel from South Africa and seven other nations in southern Africa, Biden said they would give officials more time to take action against the new variant.
Biden also praised South African authorities for identifying the variant quickly. "This kind of transparency is to be encouraged and applauded," he added.