Sri Lanka banned the arrival of travellers from six countries in the African continent from midnight on Saturday as the World Health Organization (WHO) identified the new Covid-19 mutation ‘Omicron’ in South Africa, a variant of concern, sparking global action.
Passengers with a travel history to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini, within the past 14 days including transit passengers will not be permitted entry to the country, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said yesterday.
Those who have arrived in the country from these countries have been called upon to undergo home quarantine to curb the spread of the deadly strain.
According to international media, the Omicron variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on November 24. Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel have also reported cases of this new strain.
The United Kingdom was the first to impose a travel ban on six countries from the African continent, due to fears sparked by Omicron. It was followed by the United States, the EU and Switzerland, international media reported.
India, Iran and Japan too have ordered more rigorous screening and testing for travellers from several countries from southern Africa.
Another sub-lineage of the Covid-19 Delta variant was detected in Sri Lanka the previous week. It was identified as B.1.617.2.104, Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said.