COVID-19: Omicron Erupts in Saudi After Banning Flights From 14 African Nations

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has recorded the Gulf’s first confirmed case of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 on a citizen returning from North Africa.

This is revealed by a health ministry official on Wednesday, 01 December 2021, NDTV reported.

The variant, which was first announced by South Africa but has since been discovered to have been present earlier in Europe, has prompted governments around the globe to reimpose travel restrictions, despite warnings from the World Health Organization this could do more harm than good.

Saudi Arabia
No entry for expats in Saudi | AFP

“One case of the Omicron variant has been detected in the kingdom — it was a citizen coming from a North African country,” the ministry official told the state SPA news agency.

“He has been put in isolation, as have his contacts, and the necessary health measures have been taken.”

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Saudi halts flights from total of 14 African nations

Earlier, the kingdom announced on Sunday it was temporarily suspending flights to and from seven African countries due to the outbreak of the newly discovered coronavirus strain, omicron.

The countries are Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius and Comoros, an official source from the Ministry of Interior told Saudi state news agency SPA.

The Kingdom on Friday announced the suspension of flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini due to concerns over the variant. This brings the total number of banned African countries to 14.

Expats will be denied entry if they have been in any of the countries listed within the last 14 days before arrival in the Kingdom, Arab News gathered.

Nationals and ex-pats who are allowed entry will be required to quarantine for five days, including those who have been vaccinated.

The Ministry of Interior called on those who entered Saudi Arabia after travelling to the list of banned countries after Nov. 1, to take a PCR test.

As of Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said that no omicron cases had been detected in the country so far.

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