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Malaysia bans travel from African nations amid Omicron fears

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Omicron fears prompt Malaysia to ban travel from African countries.

Following suit with countries around Asia and around the world, Malaysia has announced a temporary ban on travellers entering from African countries in close proximity to the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Malaysia’s health minister announced the ban on 8 African countries including South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, though it hasn’t banned other countries that have reported cases of Omicron yet.

The Omicron virus was first detected in South Africa with officials there stressing that it is likely because of the countries advanced viral study labs, though recent reports of infections in the Netherlands nearly 2 weeks ago suggest that Omicron was floating around Europe prior to African detection.

Still, many countries are focusing on locking down flights from the southern countries in Africa, though Thailand’s neighbour to the south will consider bans on countries like the UK and the Netherlands that have Omicron infections as well. The health minister of Malaysia assures that all measures taken are temporary only until it is deemed safe again.

“These are just temporary measures until we find out more about the Omicron variant. The moment we believe it is safe, we will lift these measures.”

Malaysian nationals returning from any of these countries will be required to quarantine upon return from any of these countries, whether or not they are vaccinated. A plan that was launching Vaccinated Travel Lanes in Malaysia – safe routes where tourists could travel quarantine free – will now be delayed also. A VTL had just launched a few days ago between Malaysia and Singapore to the south after almost 2 years of closed borders.

The new Omicron variant has been a huge setback for the reopening of tourism around the world, and Malaysia is no exception. Borders had been reopening in Malaysia over the past few weeks, now that Covid-19 has slowed after 2.6 million reported infections in the country. Malaysia has achieved high vaccination rates that were paying off as tourism was relaunching, but Omicron has thrown a wrench in the recovery.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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