Coronavirus: Omicron variant fears prompt Australia, Japan, Philippines, Thailand to impose new travel curbs | South China Morning Post
Coronavirus: Omicron variant fears prompt Australia, Japan, Philippines, Thailand to impose new travel curbs. The restrictions are similar to those brought in by Singapore, Hong Kong and elsewhere after the discovery of the new variant triggered global alarm on Friday
Australia imposed new restrictions on Saturday on people who have been to nine southern African countries, a day after the Philippines made a similar move, as the new Omicron variant raises concerns about another wave of the coronavirus pandemic.Effective immediately, the Australian government will ban non-citizens who have been in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, eSwatini, the Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique from entering and will require supervised 14-day quarantines for Australian citizens and their dependents returning from the countries, said Health Minister Greg Hunt. These restrictions also apply to people such as international students and skilled migrants arriving from countries with which Australia has travel bubbles, who have been in any of the nine countries within the past 14 days.Anyone who has already arrived in Australia and who has been in any of those countries within the past 14 days must immediately isolate and be tested.The Australian government will also suspend all flights from the nine southern African countries for two weeks.
Meanwhile, Japan said it would tighten border controls for the southern African nations of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, requiring a 10-day quarantine for any entrants, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
The new rules, taking effect from midnight, come a day after Japan tightened border controls for those arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho.
The Philippines has also suspended flights from South Africa and six other countries – Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, eSwatini, and Mozambique – until December 15, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a statement on Friday night. Passengers who have visited any of these countries in the 14 days before their arrival will also be temporarily barred from entry, he said. Earlier in the day, the Philippines had announced the reopening of borders to tourists from what it considers low-risk areas, as part of an easing of restrictions after weeks of declining coronavirus infections.Thailand said on Saturday it would also ban the entry of people travelling from eight countries – Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – from December.
“We have notified airlines and these countries,” senior health official Opas Karnkawinpong told a news conference. “Those that have already been approved to enter the country from these eight countries will be ordered to undergo an additional 14-day mandatory quarantine, starting now,” Opas said.People from other African countries who have already secured approval to visit Thailand will be subject to 14 days in hotel quarantine. No African countries are on a list of 63 nations eligible for quarantine-free travel to Thailand which started this month, Opas said.