US Announces Travel Restrictions For Eight African Countries Over New COVID Variant

 

On November 26, President Biden issued a Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019. The proclamation is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on Monday, November 29, 2021. This proclamation notes that this does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on November 29, 2021.
The entry restrictions cover travelers (with certain exceptions) who were physically present within the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Excerpt:

The national emergency caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States continues to pose a grave threat to our health and security. As of November 26, 2021, the United States has experienced more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 773,000 COVID-19 deaths. It is the policy of my Administration to implement science-based public health measures, across all areas of the Federal Government, to act swiftly and aggressively to prevent further spread of the disease.

On November 24, 2021, the Republic of South Africa informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that was detected in that country. On November 26, 2021, the WHO Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution announced that B.1.1.529 constitutes a variant of concern. While new information is still emerging, the profile of B.1.1.529 includes multiple mutations across the SARS-CoV-2 genome, some of which are concerning. According to the WHO, preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern. Further, the WHO reports that the number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in the Republic of South Africa. Based on these developments, and in light of the extensive cross-border transit and proximity in Southern Africa, the detection of B.1.1.529 cases in some Southern African countries, and the lack of widespread genomic sequencing in Southern Africa, the United States Government, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the Department of Health and Human Services, has reexamined its policies on international travel and concluded that further measures are required to protect the public health from travelers entering the United States from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe. In addition to these travel restrictions, the CDC shall implement other mitigation measures for travelers departing from the countries listed above and destined for the United States, as needed.

Given the recommendation of the CDC, working in close coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, described above, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to suspend and restrict the entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of noncitizens of the United States (“noncitizens”) who were physically present within the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and the Republic of Zimbabwe during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, hereby find that the unrestricted entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would, except as provided for in section 2 of this proclamation, be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and that their entry should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and exceptions.

Read in full here.

 

US Mission South Africa to Amcits: Avoid All Non-Essential Movement #CivilUnrest

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Thanks — DS

 

On July 13, US Mission South Africa issued a Security Alert recommending that U.S. citizens avoid all non-essential travel within areas affected by blockages, increased violence, vandalism and criminal activity

Event:  Civil unrest and protests continue throughout KwaZulu-Natal Province and Johannesburg and Pretoria in Gauteng Province.  Following reports of blockages on many provincial and municipal transit routes, increased violence, vandalism, and criminal activity at commercial centers, and calls for calm by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the U.S. Mission to South Africa recommends avoiding all non-essential movement within affected areas.  Exercise heightened caution in commercial areas where looting and violence can and has occurred suddenly.  The situation throughout many areas of these provinces is unstable and authorities are not able to respond to all events.   

The U.S. Consulate General Durban is available for emergency services only.  The U.S. Consulates General in Johannesburg and Cape Town are operating as normal.

There is currently a “Level 4-Do Not Travel” Advisory for South Africa due to COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions. The advisory also advised U.S. citizens to “Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest. “
The advisory dated July 6, 2021 was “Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information and “If you decide to Travel.”
US Mission South Africa is currently headed by Chargé d’Affaires Todd P. Haskell who joined Mission South Africa as the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim in March 2021. Ambassador Haskell previously served as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Congo from July 2017 until January 2021. He is a 35-year career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor.
Ambassador Haskell’s second in command is Heather Merritt who was “chosen by the Department of State to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the U.S. Mission to South Africa, effective April 16, 2021.”  According to her official bio, she arrived in South Africa on August 28, 2020 as the U.S. Consul General in Johannesburg.

 

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Confirmations: Godfrey, Mustafa, Carwile, McKee , Marks, Cella, Plus 6 Foreign Service Lists

 

 

2019-09-26 PN888 SERBIA | Anthony F. Godfrey, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Serbia.
2019-09-26 PN890 BULGARIA | Herro Mustafa, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Bulgaria.
2019-09-26 PN771 LATVIA | John Leslie Carwile, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Latvia.
2019-09-26 PN796 PAPUA NEW GUINEA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, VANUATU | Erin Elizabeth McKee, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.
2019-09-26 PN131 SOUTH AFRICA | Lana J. Marks, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Africa.
2019-09-24 PN114 FIJI, KIRIBATI, NAURU, TONGA, TUVALU | Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.
FS LISTS (Click on PN number to see the names)
2019-09-26 PN786 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Melissa McInnis, and ending Marixell Garcia, which 12 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN787-2 Foreign Service | Nomination for Courtney L. Lacroix, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1001 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning George Habib Abi-Nader, and ending Alexis Lyn Zintak, which 204 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1002 Foreign Service | Nomination for Cynthia K. Duerr, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1003 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jessica Abenstein, and ending David Waldron, which 6 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1004 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Kendra Michelle Arbaiza-Sundal, and ending Jacqueline Leann Ward, which 95 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.

Handbag Designer Lana J. Marks to be U.S. Ambassador to South Africa

The White House announced the president’s intent to nominate handbag designer and Mar-a-Lago member Lana Marks to be his ambassador to South Africa. If confirmed, she would replaced Patrick Gaspard who served as Ambassador to Pretoria from  2013-2016.  The last career diplomat appointed as Ambassador to South Africa was Cameron R. Hume who served from 2001-2004.

Prior appointees to this position also include Donald Gips who previously served as Vice President Al Gore’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor; career diplomat and three-time Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman; and career diplomat and four-time Ambassador Edward Joseph Perkins,

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State Dept Regional Psychiatrist William Callahan, 53, Dies in Cape Town

— Domani Spero

We previously posted about the December 12 death of a U.S. Embassy Accra employee while visiting Cape Town, South Africa. (See US Embassy Accra Employee Falls to Death on South Africa’s Table Mountain). We subsequently learned the identity of the employee but decided not to publish his name as we could not confirm independently that the family back in California has been notified.  His hometown newspaper had since identified him in a news article as William E. Callahan Jr., 53, a prominent psychiatrist in Aliso Viejo, California.  He was the State Department’s Regional Psychiatrist covering West Africa. Below is an excerpt from OCRegister:

Callahan had left his private psychiatry practice in California last year to join the U.S. State Department as a Regional Medical Officer and Psychiatrist based out of the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana, said Kenneth Dekleva, Director of Mental Health Services at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Dekleva said the news came as a shock to him and his department last Friday when he found out Callahan’s body had been recovered by South African authorities near the Table Mountain Range.

“His death has touched many people: my phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Friday…we lost one of our own,” Dekleva said. “It’s a huge loss for our organization. He represented the best in psychiatry in my opinion. We’re very proud to have known him and to have had him as part of our team.”

Dekleva said that the investigation surrounding the circumstances of Callahan’s death is ongoing in South Africa.

Memorial services are planned in Accra on Wednesday. Services in Greenfield, Mass. and Laguna Beach will occur in early 2014, the State Department said.

 

Dr. Callahan joined the State Department in July 2012.  Our source told us that “he was an avid outdoorsman and in great shape.  He was well-liked in Accra and at the other embassies he covered in West Africa.”

According to his online bio, he was a Special Forces flight surgeon turned psychiatrist.  “With the constant deployments in my military unit on clandestine missions, I observed how stress in a family member can jump from person to person and lead to physical illness as well.  After 5 years of active duty and 9 of total service, I left the military to get the training to become a board certified psychiatrist.”

He was previously the president of the Orange County Psychiatric Society.  For 15 years prior to joining the State Department, he  provided a two hour a week, free, open-to-the-public group for families dealing with a mental illness called Interactive Solutions.

Dr. Callahan’s service in the military included a general surgery internship at David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB, CA followed by assignment to the 8th Special Operations Squadron as a flight surgeon, at Hurlburt Field, FL.  He served in both the First Gulf War and Panama Wars,  and received two Meritorious Service Medals. He was the 1988 Flight Surgeon of the Year within the First Special Operations Wing.

He graduated from Deerfield Academy (1978), Tufts University (1982), Tufts Medical School (1986) and did General Surgery Internship at Travis AFB, CA (1987), and his Residency in Psychiatry at UC Irvine (1994).

R.I.P.

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US Embassy Accra Employee Falls to Death on South Africa’s Table Mountain

— Domani Spero

Updated on 12/20/13 – see State Dept Regional Psychiatrist William Callahan, 53, Dies in Cape Town

South Africa’s Independent Online reported on December 13 that an American diplomat fell to his death while hiking on the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.  The Wilderness Search and Rescue spokesman told the reporter that “It appears that the man fell to his death on a rocky slope called Porcupine buttress. The area is known to be dangerous and another hiker nearly died during a fall there last year.” Excerpt:

Five volunteer teams from Wilderness Search and Rescue searched through the night. Then, shortly after 6am on Friday morning, the 53-year-old man’s body was spotted by an Emergency Medical Services helicopter. Two paramedics were lowered from the helicopter to the body. The man was declared dead at the scene.

[…]
Police have identified the victim. However, the American Embassy’s spokesman, Jack Hillmeyer, asked the Cape Argus not to publish the name because they had not received official confirmation and his next of kin had not yet been notified.

Read the report here.

Table Mountain from Capt. Cook's ship HMS Resolution by William Hodges (1772) Via Wikipedia

Table Mountain from Capt. Cook’s ship HMS Resolution by William Hodges (1772) Via Wikipedia

Will Stevens, the Spokesperson for the Bureau of African Affairs confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen visiting South Africa on December 12.  We cannot confirm if the individual was a diplomat, only that he/she was an employee of the U.S. Embassy Accra in Ghana  who died in South Africa.  Below is the full statement from Mr. Stevens:

“I can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen visiting South Africa on December 12.   We are saddened by the death of this Embassy Accra employee, and offer our condolences to the individual’s family and loved ones on their loss.  Out of respect for the privacy of those affected, I have no further comment.”

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US Mission South Africa: FS Employee Christopher Bates Dead in Jo’burg

Various press outlets reported the death of a USG employee in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday.  Today, the embassy spokesperson Jack Hillmeyer confirmed the death and identified the deceased:

The U.S. Embassy confirms the death of Consulate General Johannesburg employee Christopher “Norm” Bates on January 13, 2013.  Bates has been assigned as the Information Management Officer at Consulate Johannesburg since 2010.  He was an 11 year employee of the Department of State and had previously served at U.S. embassies in Senegal, Kenya, and Lesotho.

The circumstances surrounding his death are being investigated by the South African Police.  The State Department’s Diplomatic security staff is cooperating with the police investigation.

We are saddened by the loss of our colleague and friend.  Our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.

Local news cited Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini saying that the consulate employee was seen driving into Oxford Gardens on Oxford Road in Illovo with a 29-year-old woman at about 3am.  The woman was later alleged to have a knife in her hand and the victim stabbed on the upper body.  The consulate employee was reported to have died at the scene and the woman was arrested by local police.

The US Mission in South Africa includes approximately 310 U.S. and 560 locally engaged staff employed by 28 U.S. Government departments and agencies. In addition to the Embassy in Pretoria, we have Consulate Generals in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

We will update if we learn more.