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New Variant Named Omicron, Malaysia Imposes Travel Ban To 7 African Countries
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New Variant Named Omicron, Malaysia Imposes Travel Ban To 7 African Countries

The new coronavirus variant also led to calls for more vaccine equity in the world.

Adeline Leong

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A new Covid-19 variant from South Africa named B.1.1.529 was discovered and first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 24 November.

WHO has named this new variant Omicron and declared it as a Variant of Concern (VOC).

According to WHO, the Omicron variant has many mutations and evidence points to an increased reinfection risk.

The variant has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

In a report by BBC, some countries have banned or restricted travel to and from southern Africa.

Travel restrictions in Malaysia

Malaysians are not allowed to travel to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe for the foreseeable future starting 27 November due to concerns about the new variant.

Malaysian citizens and permanent residents returning to Malaysia from these seven countries will need to undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days at a government facility.

According to Malaysiakini, they are not allowed to undergo a home quarantine.

Travellers with a 14-day travel history from the seven listed countries will not be allowed to enter Malaysia as of 26 November 2021.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also said swab samples would be taken for genomic sequencing purposes.

So far, there’s no evidence of the new Omicron variant in Malaysia based on the genomic surveillance carried out on 26 November.

Calls for more vaccine equity

The spread of Omicron also led to calls for more vaccine equity globally, seeing that South Africa has a low vaccine uptake.

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