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Canada, Indonesia impose travel restrictions on Nigeria, nine other African countries

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THE governments of Canada and Indonesia have placed Nigeria and nine other African countries on travel ban to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Other African countries also banned by include: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Egypt.

Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced on Tuesday that foreign nationals who had been to Nigeria, Malawi or Egypt within the last 14 days would be temporarily banned from entering the country.

This is coming days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) dubbed omicron a ‘variant of concern’ as it could potentially resist current vaccines. The Nigeria Center for Disease and Control (NCDC) subsequently announced that two cases of the variant had been detected in the country.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has rejected the ban placed on his country, describing it as both ‘unscientific’ and ‘discriminatory.’

“We have come out in total rejection of these bans that have been imposed on southern Africa, and we are insisting that they be lifted,” said Ramaphosa.

The WHO has advised against any kind of travel and trade restrictions, saying that they are inappropriate and could actually cause more harm than good in terms of global effort to contain it.

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In a statement on Sunday, the world health body urged countries to continue to implement the effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 circulation overall, using a risk analysis and science-based approach.

“WHO recommends countries to undertake, including enhancing surveillance and sequencing of cases, reporting initial cases or clusters to WHO, performing field investigations and laboratory assessments to better understand if Omicron has different transmission or disease characteristics,” the statement said.

It added that that inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines should be urgently addressed to ensure that vulnerable groups everywhere, including health workers and older persons, received their first and second doses, alongside equitable access to treatment and diagnostics.

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