The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is hunting down all passengers who flew into the United States from South Africa and southern African nations.
The Reuters news agency reported Wednesday morning that it has seen a copy of a letter from the CDC asking airlines to turn over the names of all passengers from that region.
The report comes amid heightened concerns over the new omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa last week.
The CDC plans to turn over the list of names to local and state governments to begin the arduous process of testing the visitors for Covid-19. But they could be anywhere in the US by now.
So far, the UK has reported 22 cases of omicron infections.
South Africans are reportedly furious that the World Health Organization and the CDC have targeted their nation for the new variant.
The African continent has the lowest cases of Covid-19 on the planet, despite a 6% vaccination status.
A South African doctor who treated omicron patients has stated the new variant causes “mild” symptoms in the infected.
“It actually started with a male patient who’s around the age of 33,” Dr. Angelique Coetzee told the BBC on Sunday. “And he said to me that he’s just [been] extremely tired for the past few days and he’s got these body aches and pains with a bit of a headache.
Dr. Coetzee said the first patient had a “scratchy throat” and didn’t develop a cough or lose his sense of taste or smell. His family tested positive for Covid-19.
She has since treated more omicron patients — all with “mild” symptoms. None were hospitalized.
Media outlets claim cases of the omicron variant has surged 400% in Africa.