A White House correspondent accused press secretary Jen Psaki Thursday of lying about the reasoning for travel restrictions, which have targeted eight countries in southern Africa due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Simon Ateba of Today News Africa began shouting over Psaki as she tried to call on Voice of America’s Patsy Widakuswara, at one point telling the press secretary: “You are saying something that is false.”
“I just answered — Simon, I answered a question on this,” Psaki said as Ateba attempted to get his question in. “Let’s let Patsy ask a question,” added Psaki, who later scolded Ateba when he persisted. “It’s not effective to scream over your colleagues in here,” the press secretary said. “Let’s — let’s — let Patsy ask the question.”
Psaki claimed the call was “not a decision made out of the White House,” but was “based on the recommendation, always of our public health and medical experts.”
“They have advised, several days ago, [for] the president to put in place restrictions on a set of countries where we are seeing the variant — specifically in South Africa — spread to hundreds if not thousands of cases and neighboring countries because of the concern about spread,” she added. “We will evaluate every day if those restrictions — any of these restrictions — should be expanded upon.”
Ateba had also pressed Dr Fauci for answers the previous day as to why 8 countries were on the travel ban list and only 2 of them had reported cases of the Omicron variant.
“You know, that’s a very good question and important question, and we did struggle with that,” Fauci answered. “But we wanted to see if we could buy time temporarily, so I do hope that this gets sorted out and lifted before it has any significant impact on your country.”
Psaki has defended the travel restrictions, however one reported did question why there was no impact on European countries when cases have been detected there.
“I guess I’m just trying to understand why if one person, let’s say in Germany or somewhere else, gets on a plane and comes to the United States, isn’t that person — just as likely to have the variant end up in the United States? Could you just talk a little bit more about the science behind the reasoning there?” PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor asked Monday.
“Well, I think the larger point, Yamiche, is that it is a much larger spread in South Africa than it is at this point in Europe and other countries,” Psaki explained. “We will continue to assess if there are additional restrictions that need to be put in place.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NATIONAL REVIEW
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