More Countries Closing Borders Due To Omicron Variant

by SharonKurheg

The Omicron variant of COVID has been designated as a “variant of concern” by the WHO. That designation makes it the World Heath Organization’s most serious of a Coronovirus variant.

On Sunday, the U.N. health agency’s statement about Omicron boiled down to “It’s not clear if Omnicron is more transmissible than other variants. It’s also not clear how severe the disease is, once infected. But we’re looking at those, along with the effectiveness of our current vaccines, tests and treatments.”

In other words, “We don’t know much about it.”

So far the variant has been detected in South Africa and Botswana. It’s also been found in, as of this writing, travelers to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong,  Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Several countries, such as the U.S., have so far only banned travel to/from select countries in southern Africa, where the variant appears to have local transmission. A handful of countries are also banning travel with Hong Kong.

However other countries are once again closing their borders, or delaying planned reopening:

  • Israel said over the weekend they are banning all travelers for at least 14 days, except for urgent humanitarian cases.
  • Effective today (Monday), Morocco will be denying entry to all travelers, including Moroccan citizens, for 2 weeks.
  • Japan had begun reopening its borders to short-term business travelers and students, but has now stopped. All travelers except those who are residents of the country will be barred effect Monday.
  • Australia‘s plan to reopen its borders to international students, skilled migrants and travelers from Japan and South Korea was to begin on December 1st. It’s now been delayed until December 15th.

I’m sure that list will grow before this is all said and done.

Hopefully Omicron will turn out to be a variant that’s “nothing to worry about.” But until the world knows more about it, some countries are making changes in an abundance of caution.

Personally, I’m glad we have no international travel plans at the moment.

Feature Image: Elvert Barnes / flickr

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