Britain ends Omicron travel ban on 11 African nations

The British government last November compiled a travel "red list" of 11 countries after the Omicron variant was first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong.

Britain on Wednesday ended a travel ban on visitors from 11 African countries that were put in place to combat the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The British government last November compiled a travel “red list” of 11 countries after the Omicron variant was first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong.

The countries on the list were Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Moambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.

The travel ban was lifted on Wednesday at 0400 GMT following an announcement in parliament on Tuesday by UK health Secretary Sajid Javid who explained that the country had achieved community transmission of the Omicron variant and there is no point in keeping the ban.

President Joe Biden meets with British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, Tuesday, September 21, 2021, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) 
President Joe Biden meets with British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, Tuesday, September 21, 2021, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the U.K. and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of the Omicron from abroad,” he said.

On Monday, Javid said that Omicron would be dominant in London within 48 hours.

Authorities in the U.K. have said that Omicron infections were doubling every two to three days, amounting to about 200,000 new cases daily.

While the ban remained in place, only British citizens or residents arriving from the listed countries were allowed to enter the U.K. on condition they quarantine in a hotel at their expense.

South African scientists have said the health effects of Omicron has been less severe than the Delta variant but the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that it may be too soon to tell.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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