SARS-CoV-2 – Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of concern
Omicron is another COVID-19 variant which spreads rapidly. Due to Omicron COVID-19 variant, there will be extension of curbs and restrictions to travel internationally. Check below for the restrictions by country. Most of the countries restricting the passenger traveling from any of the South African countries such as Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has a variation called Omicron. On the suggestion of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution, WHO recognized the variety B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, dubbed Omicron, on November 26, 2021. (TAG-VE). Omicron has many mutations that could affect how it functions, according to TAG-VE.
TAG-VE (Technical Advisory Organization on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution) is an independent group of professionals that monitors and evaluates SARS-CoV-2 virus evolution on a regular basis and determines whether individual mutations or combinations of mutations modify the virus’s behavior.
Who discovered the name Omicron?
It was discovered by TAG-VE (Technical Advisory Organization). It’s an independent group of professionals that monitors and evaluates SARS-CoV-2 virus evolution.
Why it is called so?
It’s the thirteenth and most recent of five ‘variants of concern.’The capital “O” and lowercase “o” symbols are used in Omicron, which is the 15th Greek alphabet.
The reason behind utilising Greek alphabets to name the variants was to make it easier for non-scientific people to discourse about them.
Where is Omicron variant coming from?
South Africa first reported the B.1.1.529 variant to WHO on November 24, 2021. The epidemiological picture in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases.
Where omicron originated / started?
The first confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was discovered in a sample taken on November 9, 2021 in South Africa and which is reported to WHO on 24th November 2021.
What are the countries restricting Omicron?
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- According to official media, Angola said on Saturday that it will restrict its borders with seven countries in southern Africa to prevent the spread of the new Omicron type.
- South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe will be unable to cross Angola’s border until January 5, 2022.
- Passengers arriving in Argentina who have travelled anywhere on the African continent during the last 14 days must undertake an obligatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
- They must take an antigen test when they arrive in Argentina. Non-Argentine citizens and residents will be asked to show proof of comprehensive health insurance that covers Covid-19.
- For at least 14 days, all inbound and outbound flights from Australia to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have been halted. Foreigners who have visited certain areas in the past two weeks are not allowed to enter.
- The country has banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, The Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique
- Brazil’s air borders with South Africa, Botswana, Swatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are now closed, according to Ciro Nogueira, the President’s Chief of Staff.
- Non-Canadians who have been in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and/or Eswatini since November 12 will be prevented from entering the nation, according to Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
- To board their flight to Canada, they must have a negative PCR test, then take another viral test upon arrival, quarantine at a hotel until a confirmed negative test result is obtained, and then quarantine at their home for another 14 days.
- As of December 2, anyone who has visited Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola, or Zambia in the previous 21 days would be denied admission.
- Anyone who has spent the previous 14 days in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, or Zimbabwe is barred from entering Chile.
- Residents of Chile who have travelled to any of the impacted areas must undergo testing upon arrival and be quarantined for seven days.
- China is one country that has remained relatively unchanged in the wake of the Omicron revelation, owing to the fact that its travel controls are already exceedingly rigorous, with few if any Westerners permitted to enter the country.
- Denmark has warned its residents to avoid all travel to Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, and has imposed a 10-day quarantine and testing system on anyone who has visited those countries in the previous ten days.
- According to the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry, any passengers who have spent less than 10 days in any of the seven countries must be tested and placed in isolation for 10 days after entering Denmark.
- After two negative PCR tests on the sixth day, isolation can be broken (on day 4 and 6).
- Egypt has halted direct flights from a number of southern African countries, including South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini, according to the Egyptian government.
- Fiji’s border procedures are being tightened. The southern African countries were already on its “red list,” but now only Fijian citizens who have visited one of the red-listed countries are allowed to enter the country.
- They’ll have to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive, including PCR tests on days 5 and 12.
- All flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini have been halted by France.
- All arrivals from countries on the “green,” “orange” and “red” lists must present a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or antigen test issued no less than 48 hours before travel.
- Travellers to and from “scarlet” countries and the UK must present a negative PCR or antigen test taken 24 hours before travel. They will also be subjected to a coronavirus test upon arrival.
- All travellers, irrespective of vaccination status, are required to present a negative Covid-19 certificate to enter France from outside the European Union or Schengen zone. The test should have been taken within 48 hours of departure. Lithuania, Finland and Czechia too have implemented similar measures. The European Union, meanwhile, has proposed common daily reviews of restrictions for all member states.
- Flights from these countries Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have been prohibited by Germany.
- Only essential travel from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zambia, and Malawi will be permitted, according to a statement released by Greece’s health ministry on Friday.
- Travelers will need a special permit from local Greek embassies and diplomatic posts to travel, according to the ministry, and will be tested upon arrival and placed in quarantine hotels for 10 days before being tested again.
- Meanwhile, Hong Kong tightened its already severe regulations, barring any foreigners who had recently visited South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, or Zimbabwe. Residents of Hong Kong travelling from southern African countries will be required to spend seven days in a government quarantine facility, where they will be subjected to daily viral testing and medical supervision.
- All foreign passengers must submit a self-declaration form to an online government portal beginning December 1 that contains a 14-day travel history and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
- Travelers from “at-risk” nations will now be subjected to additional testing and surveillance, including a PCR test upon arrival.
- They’ll also have to stay at home for seven days to be quarantined. South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe these 3 countries are among the “at-risk” countries as of November 26, as are “countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom,” Brazil, Bangladesh, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.
- Indonesia has announced that foreigners who have spent the previous 14 days in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, or Nigeria will be denied entry.
- On arrival, any Indonesian nationals who have been to those countries will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.
- Ireland has announced that anyone arriving from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, or Zimbabwe will be subjected to mandatory quarantine.
- Residents of impacted nations who arrive in Ireland will be allowed to isolate at home.
- Israel holds the distinction of being the first country to close its borders after learning of the Omicron variety, less than three months after reopening its borders to tourists.
- Even if completely vaccinated, Israeli nationals can return to the country but will be subject to quarantine.
- Anyone who has spent the previous 14 days in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, or Eswatini is prohibited from entering Italy.
- Non-citizens, including international students, short-term residents (those already in the country can stay), and people visiting family, have been barred from entering Japan since November 30.
- Kuwait banned direct commercial flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia, and Malawi on Saturday, and recommended against all travel, particularly to the southern African countries. Kuwaiti nationals arriving from the concerned countries will be quarantined for seven days, while non-Kuwaitis will not be allowed to enter within 14 days of visiting the nations on the list.
- Tourists who have been to or transited through South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, or Eswatini for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days will be denied entrance, according to the Health Ministry.
- Nationals of the Maldives and those with long-term visas from these countries will be allowed to enter, but they will be subjected to a required 14-day quarantine including virus testing.
- South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe have all banned travel to and from Malta.
- Morocco has put a two-week suspension on all inbound international planes, starting at midnight on November 29.
- Following news of the new type, the Netherlands has placed a flying ban over the southern African region.
- Anyone entering the Netherlands after visiting one of these countries must stay in a government-approved hotel for a period of quarantine.
- Passengers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, and Hong Kong would be denied tourist visas starting of December 3.
- The health ministry of Nepal has advised Nepalis not to travel worldwide unless it is an emergency, but there are no explicit prohibitions for outbound travellers.
- As of 11:59 p.m. local time on November 28, only New Zealand nationals are permitted to travel from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique.
- New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins stated in a statement that travellers from these countries must stay in controlled isolation for 14 days and undergo testing.
- According to local media, Oman has banned inbound flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.
- Anyone who has visited any of the seven nations in the last 14 days would be denied entrance.
- Pakistan said on Saturday that arrivals from South Africa, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, and Botswana would be barred.
- Pakistani people returning from impacted countries will be allowed entrance provided they have been vaccinated and have negative pre- and post-travel tests.
- Inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique have been stopped until December 15.
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- Non-Russians who have visited Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zimbabwe since November 28 are not permitted to enter the nation.
- Russian nationals who have visited one of those countries, as well as Hong Kong, mainland China, Israel, or the United Kingdom, are allowed to enter, but must first take a PCR test and self-isolate until their results are verified negative.
- Rwanda declared on Sunday that direct flights to and from southern Africa would be temporarily halted.
- Anyone travelling from one of the afflicted nations would be subjected to a seven-day quarantine.
- South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini have all had their flight connections with Saudi Arabia suspended.
- Anyone who has spent the previous 14 days in one of the affected nations would be denied entrance.
- On arrival, Saudi citizens who have visited the region must undergo a five-day quarantine.
- As of November 28 2021, arrivals from these countries South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are severely restricted.
- Person who does not have a Singaporean passport or residency and has visited at least one of these countries will be denied entry to Singapore or transit through its airport.
- Singaporeans and residents who have visited one of the nations can still come home, but they will be quarantined for ten days.
- Passengers arriving in Spain from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will be quarantined for ten days, with the option to leave after a virus test on the seventh day.
- The new restrictions will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension.
- Passengers from the EU, Schengen space, Andorra, Monaco, Vaticano, and el Marino who are transiting via Spain to reach these countries, as well as airline crew members, are exempt from the new requirements.
- Sri Lanka has barred the entry of any foreigners who have spent the previous 14 days in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, or Eswatini. Citizens of Sri Lanka who arrive from the countries below must spend 14 days in quarantine at home.
- Beginning in December 2021, Thai authorities have stated that travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will be prohibited.
- Turkey imposed a travel restriction on Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe on Friday.
- According to Emirates airline, travelers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe would be restricted in Dubai.
- However, outbound passenger flights from Dubai to the nations specified are permitted, according to the statement.
- South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia have all been included to the UK’s “red” list. Regardless of vaccination taken or not, UK or Irish citizens or permanent residents returning from a red-listed country must stay in a hotel for ten days.
- Citizens of other countries who have visited a destination on the red list will be denied entry.
- Only UK and Irish nationals and residents will be allowed to travel from Nigeria after 4 a.m. on December 6, and they would be required to isolate in a supervised quarantine facility.
- Anyone entering the UK is now required to quarantine until the results of a PCR test performed on their second day in the country are received. Anyone who tests positive will be placed on a 10-day quarantine.
- Travelers need to take a mandatory RT-PCR test within 48 hours of arrival in the country. They should isolate till the results are out. The rules are stricter for members of 10 southern African countries that have been added to the country’s red list.
- Even USA imposed limits on non-citizens entering the United States from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
- The first case was founded in California on November 22, 2021. Later the Omicron case were founded in Colorado and Minnesota
- According to official media, Vietnam has halted foreign arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Mozambique, as well as the issuance of visas to travellers from these countries.
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Tips to avoid Omicron
Put on a mask that covers your mouth and nose. When putting on and taking off your mask, make sure your hands are clean.
- Maintain a physical gap of at least 1 metre between yourself and others.
- Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated areas.
- Increase indoor ventilation by opening windows.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Get immunized when it’s your turn. COVID-19 vaccinations that have been approved by the World Health Organization are both safe and effective.