WASHINGTON: US President-elect Joe Biden's spokesperson dismissed President Donald Trump's announcement on Monday (Jan 18) that a COVID-19 ban on travellers arriving from much of Europe and Brazil would be lifted on Jan 26.
"On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on (Jan 26)," tweeted Jen Psaki, Biden's press secretary.
"In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
She added: "With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel."
Just minutes prior to Psaki's tweet, Trump said in a statement he would lift the travel ban on Europe and Brazil. Travel bans for China and Iran would remain in place, he said.
"This action is the best way to continue protecting Americans from COVID-19 while enabling travel to resume safely," Trump said.
Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last Tuesday that all air passengers bound for the US will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within three days of their departure.
The test policy will take effect on Jan 26, and expands on a previous testing rule that targeted Britain and came into effect in December, following the emergence of a coronavirus variant believed to be more transmissible.
The CDC recommends that travellers get tested again three to five days after their arrival, and stay home for at least seven days.
Some epidemiologists have warned it is likely that new, more transmissible variants are already establishing themselves in the US, the hardest-hit country in the world by the pandemic.
As of Monday, the US had recorded more than 24 million cases of COVID-19, with nearly 400,000 deaths.