The governor of New York on Friday announced that hospitals could cancel elective surgeries in preparation for an expected surge in COVID-19 cases, as the US bans flights from eight Southern African countries to try and prevent the new variant, Omicron, from arriving.
Kathy Hochul on Friday said that all non-urgent procedures could be postponed, beginning December 3.
Hours earlier, Joe Biden confirmed that travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region had been halted.
The new variant was first found in Botswana and has since moved to South Africa, where it is spreading rapidly through six provinces.
It has also been found in Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.