Indonesia has announced an entry ban on travellers from Nigeria and seven other African countries to curb the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant first recorded in South Africa days ago.
Other countries affected by the travel ban include travellers who have been to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini or Nigeria in the past 14 days.
The restriction takes effect on Monday and would be evaluated every two weeks, Coordinating Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said at a news conference on Sunday, according to Reuters.
“Omicron has spread to more countries, so to respond to these developments, today the government wants to carry out the following policies,” Pandjaitan said.
Indonesian citizens entering Indonesia from the listed African countries and Hong Kong will also now have to quarantine in designated facilities for 14 days, Pandjaitan added.
All other travellers entering the country will have to quarantine for seven days compared to three days previously, he added.
The World Health Organisation had on Friday declared the new COVID-19 strain first discovered in South Africa to be a variant of concern and renamed it Omicron.
The classification puts Omicron into the most-troubling category of COVID-19 variants, along with the globally-dominant Delta, plus its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and some countries in Asia have since imposed flight ban on Southern African countries including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, even as the South African government said it is being “punished” and unfairly treated for sounding the alarm.
Though the Omicron COVID-19 variant has not been recorded in Nigeria, virologists have called on the Federal Government to be swift and impose a flight ban on South Africa, to forestall the incursion of the lethal variant into the country with over 200 million people but the government has said that it is still observing the situation.
The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, on Sunday had earlier said Africa was not the source of COVID-19 which was first discovered in China two years ago, adding that the continent should not be punished for the Omicron COVID-19 variant and other mutations that occur randomly anywhere in the world.