The U.S. State Department has issued level four “do not travel” advisories to South Africa and seven nearby countries amid the new omicron variant spreading throughout the region.

The new warning comes after the World Health Organization designated the COVID-19 omicron variant a “Variant of Concern.” Originally, the omicron variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on Nov. 24.

According to the U.S. State Department, a level 4 travel advisory is the highest advisory level issued and notes that there is a “greater likelihood of life-threatening risks” under this level.

South Africa has experienced a steep increase in COVID-19 infections recently, and the health agency says this coincides with the omicron variant. 

People line up to get on the Air France flight to Paris at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. A slew of nations moved to stop air travel from southern Africa on Friday in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant that has been detected in South Africa. Scientists say it is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country's most populous province. 

People line up to get on the Air France flight to Paris at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. A slew of nations moved to stop air travel from southern Africa on Friday in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant that has been detected in South Africa. Scientists say it is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province. ((AP Photo/Jerome Delay))

OMICRON COVID-19 VARIANT: US TO LIMIT TRAVEL FROM 8 SOUTHERN AFRICA COUNTRIES

South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana were all put under a level 4 “do not travel” advisory by the U.S. State Department on Saturday. 

President Biden announced in a statement on Friday that he is restricting travel from South Africa and seven other countries due to the omicron variant.

U.S. President Joe Biden during a speech in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

U.S. President Joe Biden during a speech in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

FAUCI WOULD ‘NOT BE SURPRISED’ IF OMICRON IS ALREADY IN US, PREDICTS IT WILL GO ‘ALL OVER’

“This morning I was briefed by my chief medical advisor, Dr. Tony Fauci, and the members of our COVID response team, about the Omicron variant, which is spreading through Southern Africa,” Biden said in a statement. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a Saturday morning interview on NBC’s “Weekend TODAY” that he would not be surprised if there are cases of the omicron variant already in the United States.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, takes his seat for a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, takes his seat for a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ((AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

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“You know, I would not be surprised if it is. We have not detected it yet. But, when you have a virus that is showing this degree of transmissibility and you’re already having travel-related cases that they’ve noted in Israel and Belgium and in other places – when you have a virus like this, it almost invariably is ultimately going to go, essentially, all over,” Fauci said. 

Fox News Julia Musto and Peter Aitken contributed to this report

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https://www.foxnews.com/us/state-department-issues-do-not-travel-warnings-eight-countries-omicron-variant

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