Covid-19 Omicron variant: 17 countries that have imposed travel bans, restrictions

Countries around the world have closed borders after the emergence of Omicron variant of Covid-19 in southern Africa



Travellers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Saturday. — AP
Travellers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Saturday. — AP

By Reuters

Published: Mon 29 Nov 2021, 9:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Dec 2021, 4:57 PM

The Omicron coronavirus variant poses a high risk of global infection surges, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

News of the variant triggered alarm and a sell-off last week in financial markets, as countries clamped on new curbs for fear it could resist vaccinations and upend a nascent economic re-opening after a two-year global pandemic.

A long list of countries have already imposed travel restrictions, including the UAE, the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Netherlands.

Following is a list of travel restrictions imposed by several countries in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus.

UAE

The UAE on Friday announced suspension of entry for travellers from seven southern African countries from Monday: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique in view of the spread of Omicron variant of Covid-19.

This suspension includes the entry of travellers who were in these countries during a period of 14 days before coming to the UAE. However, flights are allowed to transport passengers from the UAE to these countries.

The UAE also allows the transfer of excluded groups which include official delegations and UAE citizens, diplomatic missions approved between the UAE and these countries and holders of golden visa.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior suspended flights from seven countries on Friday amid concerns related to the new Covid-19 variant. The countries are South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. Foreign nationals from the above seven countries are barred from entering Saudi Arabia, except for those who have spent a period of no less than 14 days in another country.

Bahrain

Bahrain was among the first countries to suspend entry of travellers from six African countries after the Omicron strain of Covid-19 was identified in South Africa.

Bahrain’s Civil Aviation Affairs reactivated the country's Red List countries, in line with directives issued by the Government Executive Committee in response to recommendations made by the National Medical Taskforce for Combatting Covid-19.

Kuwait

Kuwait suspended direct flights from nine African countries in response to the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 from Sunday.

The country has banned entry of non-Kuwaitis from nine countries, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zambia, Lesotho and Malawi. Kuwaiti nationals returning from these countries should undergo an institutional quarantine of seven days.

Oman

Oman joined other nations to suspend flights and entry for travellers from seven countries, including South Africa, due to concerns about the new Covid-19 variant.

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Vietnam

Vietnam will suspend flights to and from seven African countries over concerns about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, state media reported on December 1.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has approved the suspension, Lao Dong Newspaper reported, without saying when the move will come into effect.

Malaysia

Malaysia has temporarily banned the entry of travellers from countries that have reported the Omicron Covid-19 variant or are considered high-risk, its health minister said on December 1.

The travel ban applies to eight African countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, but could be extended to other nations where the variant has been detected, such as Britain and the Netherlands, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

Morocco

Morocco suspended all incoming air travel from around the world from Monday for two weeks because of the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant.

The decision was taken to “preserve the achievements realised by Morocco in the fight against the pandemic, and to protect the health of citizens," the country's health ministry said.

Japan

Japan said it would shut its borders to foreigners from midnight on November 30 to prevent a spread of the Omicron variant there.

Japanese returnees from a number of specified nations will have to quarantine in designated facilities, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

“These are temporary, exceptional measures that we are taking for safety’s sake until there is clearer information about the Omicron variant,” Kishida said.

Israel

Israel was the first country to shut its borders completely in response to Omicron, and said it would use counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the variant’s spread.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the ban would last 14 days.

United States

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State Department on Saturday advised against travel to eight southern African countries.

The White House earlier said it would bar nearly all foreign nationals who have been in any of eight countries within the last 14 days from flying to the United States effective Monday.

Britain

Britain has barred entry to non-residents from 10 southern African states, and British and Irish residents arriving from those countries must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

India

India will make on-arrival Covid-19 testing mandatory for air travellers from more than a dozen countries, including South Africa and Britain where the Omicron variant has been detected, the health ministry said on Monday.

The decision, effective Dec. 1, came after a man who returned from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19, though it is not yet clear which variant of the virus he contracted.

Brazil

Brazil will shut its borders to travellers arriving from six southern African countries, the chief of staff to President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday.

Canada

Canada is closing its borders to foreign travellers who have recently been to seven southern African nations to help stop the spread of Omicron, its health minister said on Friday.

Australia

Australia said on Monday it would delay the reopening of its international border by two weeks after reporting its first cases of the Omicron variant.

Singapore

Singapore has deferred the start of vaccinated travel lanes for some Middle Eastern countries that are regarded as transit hubs for travel from countries affected by Omicron, its health ministry said.


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