Canada adds Nigeria to travel ban list over Omicron COVID-19 variant panic

The Canadian Government has announced a restriction of flights from a number of countries, including Nigeria, to stem the importation and transmission of new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.

It’s unclear where or when the variant first emerged, but it has created a global panic since South African health officials first reported it last week.

The emergence of the variant has led to a flurry of travel bans, mostly affecting African countries, with cases already detected in at least 19 countries, many of them in Europe.

Canada immediately banned foreign travellers from seven African countries last week before it eventually detected its first two cases, both recent travellers from Nigeria, on Sunday, November 28, 2021.

Nigeria, Egypt, and Malawi were added to that ban list, effective December 1, according to a statement by the Canadian government on Tuesday, November 30.

Other countrues on the list are South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

“Foreign nationals who have been in any of these countries within the previous 14 days will not be permitted entry into Canada,” the statement noted.

The ban does not affect Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and others with status under the Indian Act, but they will be subjected to enhanced pre-entry and arrival testing, screening, and quarantine measures.

Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Angola, Egypt, Mauritius, Rwanda and the United Kingdom have announced similar travel restrictions since last week.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced the country’s own first Omicron cases early on Wednesday, December 1.

The cases were three people who arrived from South Africa in the past week.

All inbound travelers are now required to present a negative COVID-19 test result done not more than 48 hours before departure.

It’s still unclear how contagious the variant is and if existing COVID-19 vaccines are effective in combating it.

Only about 6.5 million people have received a first dose of vaccines since its vaccination campaign started in March.

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