Omicron Variant: France Lifts Travel Ban On Southern Africa

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Responding to calls to lift travel bans imposed on Southern African countries, France on Wednesday announced it was lifting the restrictions from Saturday.

On Sunday the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa urged countries to follow the science rather than imposing flight bans in a bid to contain the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

Shortly after South Africa discovered Omicron the UK and some EU members immediately imposed travel bans on the country and its neighbours.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was disappointed by the travel bans and called for their lifting. He said the unjustified move was against the spirit of working together to fight the virus as pledged at the G7 meeting earlier this year.

Hours after the travel bans were announced, it emerged that the variant has been detected in other parts of the world including Britain, Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, Israel, the Czech Republic, and Australia.

Dutch health authorities said on Sunday they had found at least 13 cases of the Omicron strain among travelers from South Africa, while in France, Health Minister Olivier Véran said the variant was likely already circulating in the country.

France’s entry restrictions are frequently changing, based on the Covid-19 situation in other countries, including the spread of the virus mutations.

However, on Wednesday the French decided to lift the travel ban of Southern African countries including South Africa.

Flights from those countries will be allowed to land from Saturday.