By Brandon Moseley

Stocks, oil prices and government-bond yields dropped significantly Friday after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an emergency meeting to confront the threat of the new omicron strain of COVID-19 and President Biden's administration moved to place travel restrictions on eight African countries in an attempt to contain the spread of the new strain of virus.

The Dow Jones Industrials Index closed down over 905 points on the day to close at 34,899 -a 2.53% drop. The NASDAQ lost 2.23% on the day to close at 15,491. The S&P 500 lost 2.27% on the day to close at 4,594.62. The price of U.S. crude oil fell 13% to $68.15.

“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,” Biden said in a statement. “As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises.

“For now, I have two important messages for the American people, and one for the world community:

"First, for those Americans who are fully vaccinated against severe COVID illness – fortunately, for the vast majority of our adults — the best way to strengthen your protection is to get a booster shot, as soon as you are eligible.  Boosters are approved for all adults over 18, six months past their vaccination and are available at 80,000 locations coast-to-coast.  They are safe, free, and convenient.  Get your booster shot now, so you can have this additional protection during the holiday season.

“Finally, for the world community: the news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations. The United States has already donated more vaccines to other countries than every other country combined. It is time for other countries to match America’s speed and generosity.

“In addition, I call on the nations gathering next week for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to meet the U.S. challenge to waive intellectual property protections for COVID vaccines, so these vaccines can be manufactured globally, I endorsed this position in April; this news today reiterates the importance of moving on this quickly.”

The U.S. will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other African countries starting on Monday in an effort to control the spread of the new omicron variant of COVID-19. These include: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

To see President Biden's statement on the announcement on the suspension of travel from the afflicted countries: A Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019 | The White House

Senior administration officials said that the travel restrictions policy was implemented out of an abundance of caution in light of the news of the new coronavirus variant.

The coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, has mutated a number of times since it first appeared in Wuhan City, Hubei Province China in late 2019.

As of press time 5,209,565 people globally have died from COVID-19. In the USA, 49,050,917 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the last 21 months and 799,138 have died. Here in Alabama, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reports that there have been 844,595 coronavirus cases in the state – 456,880 of those were in 2021. ADPH reports that 16,115 Alabamians have died thus far from COVID-19, with 8,928 of those deaths in 2021.  Nineteen hundred forty Alabamians were diagnosed just in the last week; while 275 Alabamians were hospitalized Friday suffering from COVID-19 complications. Almost all of the current cases of COVID-19 are from the delta strain. The omicron strain has not been reported in Alabama to this point.