Almost two years into the COVID-19 outbreak and the world is racing to contain a new coronavirus variant – Omicron.
A World Health Organization panel classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant Delta variant.
Omicron has yet to be detected in many countries around the globe, however the European Union, Asia, Middle East, USA, Canada, the UK have agreed to halt air travel from South Africa and several surrounding countries.
Many other countries have also banned travel from the region. Here are the details.
Last Friday, European Union president Ursula von der Leyen said the Commission would propose, in close coordination with member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the African region where the B.1.1.529 has been reported.
A large share of EU and Schengen Area countries have already banned travel from the region since November 26.
The UK was the first country to place travel bans from South Africa and five other Southern African countries as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the virus.
As of November 26, South Africa has been added to the red list for entering England. Nigeria was also added.
Germany has banned all flights from South Africa, except for those carrying German nationals back to Germany.
The French Government has decided to suspend arrivals from seven southern African countries. Travelers from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini will no longer be permitted to enter France for a minimum period of 48 hours.
The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority issued a Notam on the entry of travelers coming from the African continent following the emergence of the new Omicron variant.
According to the directives in the Notam, passengers from the African countries of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zambia, and Malawi are prohibited from entering Greece.
According to Malta’s official travel portal, VisitMalta, arrivals from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe will be temporarily banned starting from Saturday at midnight.
The Netherlands has imposed a ban on all flights departing from Southern Africa, which came into immediate effect last Friday.
Other countries as Italy, Norway, the Czech Republic, and more have also already imposed a travel ban.
United States of America
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of State announced it will change its Travel Advisory for South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe to Level 4 – Do Not Travel – due to the newly identified COVID-19 Omicron variant.
In a Statement on the Omicron COVID-19 Variant and a Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease, President Biden introduced additional air travel restrictions from these eight countries that take effect from November 29.
Travelers from South Africa, as well as Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, will not be permitted into Seychelles.
The Multi-Ministry Taskforce is monitoring the global COVID-19 situation and will be tightening border measures given the deteriorating situation in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Visit the Ministry of Health website here.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) India announced they will be resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services from December 15.
Restrictions will apply based on countries defined as ‘at risk’ by the Ministry of Health.
These countries are the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe.
For more information, click here.
- From November 28, international arrivals must fill out a Self-Declaration Form (SDF) and upload a negative PCR test result prior to traveling to India.
- Airlines must ensure all boarding passengers have a negative PCR result.
- Travelers from at-risk countries will undergo a PCR on arrival. If negative they will be required to home quarantine for 7 days and retest on the 8th day. If the PCR on arrival is positive, the passenger will be admitted into an isolation facility.
- Travelers coming from all other countries may be randomly chosen to undergo a PCR on arrival.
United Arab Emirates
From November 29, inbound and transit passengers from the following countries will not be able to enter until further notice: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Outbound passenger movement from Dubai to the aforesaid countries is permitted.
Cargo/freighter operation between the aforementioned countries and Dubai is permitted.
From November 28 and until further notice, entry will be suspended for travelers (excluding Maldivian citizens and Expatriates) arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini.
This includes travelers who have been to any of these countries in the last 14 days and travelers who have been in transit in any of these countries for more than 12 hours.
Maldivian citizens and expatriates traveling to the Maldives from the above countries (including those who have been in transit for more than12 hours in any of these counties) will be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine and obtain a COVlD-19 negative PCR Test result before they are released from quarantine.
For more information, click here.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has announced that the following countries have been included in Category C and a complete ban has been imposed on direct/indirect inbound travel from these countries with immediate effect: South Africa, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana.
Russian citizens arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Eswatini, Tanzania, Hong Kong, China, Israel, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and foreign citizens arriving from China, Israel, the UK, and Northern Ireland are subject to rapid testing for new coronavirus infection in the airport of arrival in Russia.
Foreign citizens living in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Eswatini, Tanzania, Hong Kong, and foreign citizens who have been in the specified territories during the last 10 days are prohibited from entering Russia.
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