MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Several countries across the globe are on high alert as the new COVID variant Omicron begins to spread. Starting Monday, a new travel ban will take effect to prevent the spread of the virus.

As millions head back home after traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, concerns are growing for many as the Omicron variant appears to be inching closer to home. 

“We just need to, as I have said it so often, prepare for the worst,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, said.

Cases have started appearing in several countries, including Canada. So far, no cases have been reported in the United States. Beginning Monday, the U.S. is banning travel from South Africa and seven other African countries.

In Memphis, Omicron is a concern for many travelers as they head home after Thanksgiving.

Scientists are still working to determine how effective the current vaccines are against the new variant. Fauci is calling for patience until more research is done.

“Let’s see what the information were getting in real time tells us and we’ll make decisions based on science and evidence the way we always do, but you wanna be prepared to do anything and everything,” Fauci said.

The CDC said the best advice is to continue to wear masks, wash hands frequently and practice social distancing.

Fauci said it will take about two more weeks before they have definitive information about the new variant.

Monday, President Biden is expected to discuss how the country will respond to the virus.