‘Disappointing that some countries continue to block direct flight from southern Africa’

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), has expressed disappointment over some countries’ continued ban of direct flights from southern Africa due to the Omicron Covid variant

Taking to Twitter late Sunday, Tedros said: “It remains disappointing that some countries continue to block direct flights from southern Africa due to the Omicron variant. It’s also dismaying that some countries aren’t accepting negative Covid-19 tests from countries of origin & instead require tests only from third countries.

“Respect is owed to the science and technology expertise in African countries as well as their transparency and sharing, including data related to the Omicron variant of concern. This is helping to ensure a safer world for all people everywhere.”

The Omicron variant was first reported to thr WHO from South Africa on November 24. The global health body has said that Omicron is a highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations, including 26-32 in the spike, some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility.

Meanwhile, the Omicron variant is spreading fast in India. With 17 new cases detected on Sunday alone, the number of people who have contracted the new variant has now increased to 21.

In response to the outbreak, the Health Ministry has revised the guidelines for international arrivals, under which all passengers coming from “at-risk” countries have to compulsorily undergo an RT-PCR test and 2 per cent of arrivals from other nations would have to take the test on a random basis.

All the international arrivals will need to upload their 14-day travel history and valid negative RT-PCR test reports on the Air Suvidha portal before embarking on their journey to India.

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