Amidst fear of newly discovered South African Covid-19 variant, ‘Omicron’, travellers from six African countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland are to be banned from entering Sri Lanka from Saturday night.
Dr. Asela Gunawardena, Director General of Health Services said travellers with a travel history (including transit) in the past 14 days to the said countries will not be permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka from 00:00 on November 28 and onwards.
In addition “irrespective of Covid-19 vaccination status, travellers of 12 years and above who are arrived in Sri Lanka on November 26 and 27 from the six countries shall undergo PCR testing,” the DG Health Services said. The travellers are to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days even the tests are negative.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan medical experts also have warned that a new Covid-19 variant like the one spreading in South Africa could emerge in Sri Lanka as well at any given time.
Dr. Ranjith Batuwanthudawa, the Director of the Health Promotion Bureau told media that according to the available information the vaccines are 40 per cent less effective against the new variant.
On November 19, a new sub-lineage of Covid-19 Delta variant named B.1.617.2.104 was found in Sri Lanka. Dr Batuwanthudawa urged people to strictly adhere to the health guidelines and get vaccinated.
Nearly 75 per cent of the total population of the South Asian island nation have been vaccinated and around 400,000 of those over 60 years are given the booster jab against the virus.
According to the latest figures, 561,059 Sri Lankans have been infected with Covid-19 and 14,258 deaths have been recorded.