Countries Temporarily Ban Travel From Southern Africa Over New Virus Strain

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 27th November, 2021) Switzerland has joined the ranks of countries which announced on Friday suspension of travel from southern Africa over the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

The United Kingdom was the first to halt flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

All flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe are banned indefinitely. Exceptional regulations apply to Swiss citizens and to persons holding a residence permit in Switzerland and Liechtenstein who are currently in these countries and who wish to return to Switzerland privately,” the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health said in a statement.

All arrivals from the foregoing African countries, as well as Hong Kong, Belgium and Israel, where Omicron infections have also been found, will have to present a negative test for the virus even if they have been vaccinated or recently recovered from it, and undergo a 10-day quarantine, the statement read.

These measures will apply to all travelers from countries where the new strain emerges, it added.

Even though the variant has not yet been detected in Switzerland, the government instructed all airlines and local authorities to contact all who have arrived it the country from southern Africa over the past two weeks and recommend they be tested for the virus.

Among other countries that have imposed Africa travel restrictions are the United States, the Philippines, Spain, Israel, Austria, and Morocco.

Earlier in the day, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified the new variant as one of concern, as it is reported to carry a high number of mutations – 32 – which possibly makes it more transmissible and dangerous. The WHO has dubbed it Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.

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