Omicron travel chaos: Countries that imposed travel curbs over new Covid variant

Updated: Dec 20, 2021, 01:33 PM(IST)

Global authorities reacted with alarm to a new coronavirus (COVID-19) variant detected in South Africa, with several imposing travel curbs and tightening border controls. 

Here's a list list of countries that banned travellers from southern Africa over the variant fears.

United Kingdom

Britain on Thursday (November 25) said it would ban travel from six southern African countries after the new COVID-19 variant was detected in South Africa. "The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it," Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.

Javid said the new variant, which South Africa attributed to a surge in cases and had also been detected in travellers from the country in Botswana and Hong Kong, had not been found so far in Britain.

But he said British scientists were "deeply concerned" and as a precaution a decision had been to suspend all flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana from 1200 GMT on Friday.



France suspended all flights from southern Africa for 48 hours on Friday (November 26) to a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against hasty measures, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU aimed to halt air travel from the region. 



Following United Kingdom's decision, Scotland announced that anyone arriving from the six countries —  South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini will have to self-isolate and take two PCR tests. While hotel quarantine will be in place from 04:00 GMT on Saturday (November 27). 

Image: Representative photo of a person standing at an airport. Credit: Pixabay.



Italy said Friday (November 26) it was banning entry to those who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia or Swaziland in the past fortnight due to fears over a new coronavirus variant.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said scientists were studying the new B.1.1.529 variant, "and in the meantime, we will follow the path of maximum caution".



Israel on Friday (November 26) imposed a travel ban on most African states, after reporting cases of a new and potentially vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett widened a ban announced on Thursday on the entry of foreigners from seven African countries and travel to them.



The Philippines on Friday (November 26) suspended flights from countries with cases of a new coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said. 

"Temporary suspension of inbound international flights from South Africa, Botswana and other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the B.1.1.529 variant... shall take effect immediately," spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement.

The announcement came hours after the government announced it will reopen to fully-vaccinated tourists from most nations from December 1 to help revive an economy battered by the pandemic. 



As of now, three cases of the new Covid variant have been reported in Germany. 

"The sequencing has confirmed the result — the suspected case which was made public yesterday morning is the omicron variant," Kai Klose, Social Affairs Minister in the state of Hesse tweeted.


Singapore and Malaysia

Singapore and Malaysia announced to restrict arrivals from seven African countries, health officials said. Both the countries will restrict arrivals from seven African countries, health officials said Friday, after South Africa discovered a new Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations.

All non-citizens and people without permanent residency who have recent travel history to the seven countries will be barred from entering.

In both Singapore and neighbouring Malaysia, the restrictions will apply to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.


Czech Republic

Liberec's regional hospital has confirmed a case of new strain of Covid. The person is a female. Spokesman Vaclav Ricar told reporters, "My colleagues from the department of genetics and molecular diagnostics confirmed the strain with 90-per cent probability after a sequence analysis."



Canada on Friday (November 26) banned travelers from seven African countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe — over concerns about the spread of a new Covid strain.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos made the announcement, joining a step taken by several other countries, after the World Health Organization declared the recently discovered B.1.1.529 strain of Covid-19 to be a "variant of concern," renaming it Omicron.


United States

The United States announced Friday (Nov 26) it is restricting travel from eight southern African countries over fears of a new variant of Covid-19 detected in South Africa.

Travel will be mostly banned starting Monday from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, a senior official in President Joe Biden's administration said.

Only US citizens and permanent residents will still be able to travel from the eight countries, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.



Brazil will shut its borders to travellers arriving from six southern African countries - South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. 

"Brazil will close its aerial border to six countries in Africa due to the new coronavirus variant," Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira wrote in a Twitter post.

"We're going to protect Brazilians in this new phase of the pandemic in this country. The official notice will be published tomorrow and will be going into effect on Monday."


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, on Friday, suspended flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.

However, it has allowed entry to travellers from all other countries as long as they have received one dose of the anti-Covid vaccine. The travellers will need to quarantine for three days.



Maldives said it was barring travellers from seven African countries from Sunday over concerns about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Travellers will not be allowed into Maldives from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini, the health ministry said in a statement.

Travellers who arrived from these countries over the past two days will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine.



Even after surge in Omicron cases, Japan rules out changes in existing curbs

Even after surge in Omicron cases, Japan rules out changes in existing curbs


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