President Joe Biden speaks about omicron COVID-19 variant, urges vaccines

Hours after the administration’s order to restrict travel from South Africa and neighboring areas for non-U.S. residents went into effect, President Joe Biden urged that people get vaccinated against COVID-19.

>> Read more trending news

Biden spoke as cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have spread to North America.

As of Monday, no cases have been found in the U.S. but there have been two cases in Canada, CNN reported.

Biden said he made the decision to restrict travel from South Africa, saying that scientists there were transparent and were quick to identify the variant.

>>Related: Omicron variant: What are the symptoms; are vaccines effective; what we know now

He predicted that eventually there will be cases of omicron found.

“This variant is a cause for concern — not a cause for panic,” Biden said, according to CNN.

>>Related: Canada reports first 2 cases of omicron COVID-19 variant in Ottawa

More information about the omicron variant should be released within a week or two, including how transmissible the mutation is, The New York Times reported.

“We’re learning more about this new variant every single day,” Biden said, according to the Times. “And as we learn more, we’re going to share that information with the American people candidly and promptly.”

Biden also urged people to get their primary vaccine or the booster shot to protect against any variant of COVID-19.

>>Related: Coronavirus: Portugal, Scotland report cases of omicron variant

NBC News reported that only 42% of seniors who have been eligible for a booster shot since September, have gotten their third dose and only 30% of those people over 50 who were eligible, have gotten theirs.

>>Related: Coronavirus: Japan bars new foreign visitors amid omicron variant concerns

Health officials said it may take weeks to see if current vaccines and boosters will protect against the omicron variant, NBC News reported. Doctors believe though that the protection given by the boosters should be able to provide a good defense for now.