Omicron: More countries restrict foreign travellers over new variant fears

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Australia has delayed the reopening of it’s borders to foreign visa holders  (REUTERS)
Australia has delayed the reopening of it’s borders to foreign visa holders (REUTERS)

More countries have rushed to restrict foreigners from entering in a bid to slow down the spread of the new Omicron Covid variant.

On Monday, Japan announced a sweeping entry ban which prevents foreign travellers, apart from returning foreign residents, from entering the country.

The country’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said the drastic step, effective from Tuesday, will last for one month “to avoid a worst-case scenario”.

Hong Kong also announced late Monday that non-residents from thirteen more countries would be banned from entering the city over Omicron fears.

From Tuesday, non-residents from Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia will not be allowed to enter.

From Thursday, non-residents who have been to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, and Italy in the past 21 days will be barred.

Hong Kong had already put in place a ban on non-residents coming from a range of southern African countries.

In Latin America, Ecuador also tightened border rules. President Guillermo Lasso said on Monday that travellers from eight African countries would not be allowed to enter the country.

Morocco suspended all incoming flights for two weeks, and in Australia, officials on Monday delayed reopening the border to skilled migrants and international students.

The latest spread of global travel restrictions comes after the World Health Organisation warned member states that Omicron poses a “very high risk” and could have “severe consequences”.

However, the doctor who helped first discover Omicron has warned that countries could be “panicking unnecessarily”, saying Sunday that while more research is needed, symptoms appeared to be “extremely mild”.

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