List of countries which have imposed travel ban in wake of Omicron outbreak
- The new coronavirus variant is said to be highly transmissible and the 'most concerning' since the Delta variant outbreak.
Anxieties have risen and countries across the world have started imposing restrictions after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant in southern Africa which is said to be highly transmissible. The United States, Canada, Russia, and others joined the European Union restricting travel for visitors from the affected region where the B.1.1.529 variant -- now being called Omicron -- brought on a fresh surge of infections.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already categorised Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ and warned that it could pose greater risks than Delta. The new variant has now spread to travellers in Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
Here’s a list of restrictions around the world:
United States, Canada, Brazil
The United States imposed travel prohibition from the region, with exceptions for US citizens and permanent residents and for a few other categories, including spouses and other close family.
Canada and Brazil have also imposed similar travel restrictions for southern Africa, where a new Covid strain labelled a "variant of concern".
Britain, European Union
Britain and EU countries introduced travel restrictions on Friday, some within hours of learning of the variant. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asserted that flights will have to “be suspended until we have a clear understanding about the danger posed by this new variant, and travelers returning from this region should respect strict quarantine rules.”
Saudi Arabia also suspended flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini over concerns related to the new coronavirus variant, the state news agency (SPA) reported on Friday.
The Japanese government imposed quarantine rules for Japanese nationals arriving from Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho. Such travellers will have to be isolated at government-dedicated accommodations for 10 days and take three COVID-19 tests during that time. Russia also announced travel restrictions effective Sunday.
Australia is the latest to ban flights from nine southern African countries on Saturday, tightening its borders again to prevent the entry of the Omicron variant. Non-Australians who visited South Africa, Zimbabwe and several other nations in the past fortnight will also be barred from Australia, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced today. Meanwhile, Australian citizens will have to undergo a supervised 14-day quarantine.
On the other hand, India has not imposed any travel ban for flights from the affected region. The Union health ministry, however, directed states to start rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong – that have reported cases of the new variant so far.
Health officials in South Korea on Wednesday approved the country's first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 years or older, adding another public health tool in the fight against a prolonged pandemic.
Sri Lankan doctors and other medical staff as well as teachers will take to the streets on Wednesday to demand that the government solve a severe fuel shortage at the heart of the South Asian country's worst economic crisis in decades. The government, left with only enough fuel to last about a week, on Tuesday restricted supplies to essential services, like trains, buses and the health sector, for two weeks.
The chief of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has said there won't be a dissolution of or surrender by the group even if the peace talks with the Pakistan government succeeds. In a video released by TTP, its chief, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, who has been leading the peace talks for the group, revealed that former Director-General of ISI and Core Commander Peshawar (Gen) Faiz Hameed has been representing the Pakistan government.
As international officials and journalists waited for the world leaders at the NATO summit venue on Tuesday, what baffled them was to find 'Russian Salad' on the in-house restaurant menu -- especially as at the summit, Russia was expected to be labelled as a 'security threat' due to its invasion of Ukraine. The dish was also sold out within hours.
Two days after at least 18 people were killed after Russian missiles struck a shopping mall containing more than 1,000 people in the central city of Kremenchuk in Ukraine, president Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russian president of becoming a “terrorist”. The war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for over four months now. He further urged Russia's expulsion from the United Nations.