EU unlikely to lift Omicron travel curbs on southern African countries

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 06, 2021, 09:53 PM(IST)

Image for representation Photograph:( Reuters )

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European Union had imposed travel curbs on southern African countries after they reported presence of Omicron variant

The European Union is not expected to ease Omicron travel curbs on southern African countries, Reuters said citing three sources. EU health ministers will discuss coronavirus pandemic and spread of Omicron variant on Tuesday.

EU states had agreed to  impose travel curbs on travellers coming from seven southern African countries. This was done after these countries reported Omicron variant which is considered more infectious than previous variants

Bloomberg News, citing one diplomat familiar with the matter, reported on Monday that EU health ministers at a meeting on Tuesday may agree on the need for a PCR test for vaccinated third-country nationals from that region, which could allow some travel bans to be eased or lifted within a week.

Also Read | Omicron spreads in South Africa as President Ramaphosa urges vaccination

The travel ban "was meant always as a time-limited measure", one senior EU official told Reuters, adding however that there was no plan at the moment to lift it. "We are not yet working in that direction."

Another two EU sources familiar with the work of health ministers said no decision on travel bans was expected at Tuesday's meeting.

Also Read | Coronavirus pandemic resulted in alarming increase in malaria deaths: WHO

Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are the southern African countries that have been targeted.

South Africa has criticised the travel ban which it said penalised the country for having the expertise to first identify the variant. The United States, Britain and many other countries imposed bans similar to those of the EU.

(With inputs from agencies)

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