Saudi Arabia Suspends Flights from Seven African Countries including South Africa After Emergence of New COVID-19 Variant

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has suspended flights from seven African countries including South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini until further notice. 

The suspension comes after the emergence of a the new variant of COVID-19 called B.1.1.529 or Omicron which had also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Thursday confirmed that 22 cases of the new variant has been detected in South Africa. 

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), an official at the Interior Ministry said non-Saudi passengers aboard flights arriving directly or indirectly from the suspended countries will not be allowed into the Kingdom except for those who have spent at least 14 days in another country. 

The official added that travellers coming from these countries, including citizens of the Kingdom, will undergo a 5-day institutional quarantine regardless of their immunization status.

Several others countries have also instituted travel bans on South Africa including the UK, US, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Japan and Israel among others.

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