President Joe Biden has ordered air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other African countries effective Monday, Nov. 29, in the wake of the World Health Organization’s description of a new coronavirus variant as a “variant of concern.”

The president issued a statement Friday, “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. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries.”

The World Health Organization Friday described a new variant of the coronavirus a “variant of concern” and labeled it Omicron.

The label “variant of concern” applies to a variant deemed to be especially transmissible or severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be prohibited from coming to the U.S. starting Monday, officials said.

In a Friday statement on the White House website, the president urged Americans who are fully vaccinated against severe COVID illness to get a booster shot. He also urged those not yet fully vaccinated, “get vaccinated today.”