'That's a very good question, an important question and we did struggle with that, but we wanted to see if we could buy time temporarily,' Fauci said. 'So I do hope that this gets sorted out and lifted before it has any significant impact.'
Fauci was prodded by a journalist from Ethiopia about why President Joe Biden's travel ban - which barred entry for most non-citizens from eight African countries - included some places where no cases of the Omicron variant had been detected.
The countries included South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the cases.
Meanwhile, the U.S. reported its first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant out of California earlier Wednesday - with Fauci reading a statement about it at the top of his appearance.
Biden's top medical expert then fielded questions from reporters for about 20 minutes.
Fauci was asked if the narrowed testing window for travelers coming into the U.S. - with tests expected to be needed now within 24 hours before an individual's flight - should apply to everyone.