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UAE bans entry from seven African countries

In response to the Omicron variant, the new regulation will come into effect on 29 November

The UAE has announced the suspension of entry for travellers and transit passengers arriving from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique due to the newly identified Omicron Covid-19 variant.

According to the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), the entry suspension is applicable to travellers who have been in the aforementioned countries within the last 14 days.

Flights to these countries will continue to operate in order to transport passengers from the UAE on diplomatic missions; official delegates and golden visa holders are excluded from the regulation.

UAE citizens will only be permitted to travel to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique in the case of an emergency, for medical treatment, as part of an official delegation or to partake in a scholarship programme.

Those able to travel must present a negative Covid-19 test obtained within 48 hours of departure and take a rapid PCR test at the airport within six hours of the departure. Another PCR test will be required when arriving at the airport in the UAE followed by a 10-day quarantine and a PCR test on the ninth day of entering the UAE. Members of official delegations are required to quarantine at the airport until a negative test result is received for them to continue their mission in the UAE without having to quarantine.

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Other GCC countries have also adopted similar measures to contain the spread of the new variant. Saudi Arabia has suspended flights from and to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Bahrain has also suspended flights and entry for travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini.

The World Health Organization said this strain of coronavirus discovered by South African researchers is a variant of concern, posing a threat that could seriously affect countries’ efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The new variant carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which plays a key role in the virus’ entry into cells in the body. Scientists are concerned that the mutations could make it resistant to vaccines and present a greater risk of reinfection than other variants.

For more information, visit www.who.int

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