May 27, 2024

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Omicron Variant: Canada Bans Nigeria,9 Others

The government of Canada has extended its travel ban to Nigeria over the growing fears of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

In a travel advisory posted on November 30, the government of Canada said its decision followed the detection of a classified B.1.1.529 called Omicron by the World Health Organisation. The announcement on the travel ban was announced by the Canadian minister of health, Jean-Yves Duclos; the minister of transport, Omar Alghabra, and the minister of public safety, Marco Mendicino. It said the additional border measures are aimed at reducing the risk of the importation and transmission of COVID-19 and its variants into the country with relation to international travels.

The statement also said that based on existing data gathered from surveillance efforts across the globe by the Canadian government, it is extending its travel ban list to 10 countries including Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt. It said: “From December1, foreign nationals who have been in any of these countries within the previous 14 days will not be permitted entry into Canada.” It added that citizens of Canada, permanent residents and some others who have travelled to the banned countries, irrespective of their vaccination status would be subjected to enhanced testing, screening and quarantine measures.

The Canadian government warned that travellers who are not vaccinated but have the right of entry to Canada, will continue to be tested on arrival and day eight and quarantine for 14 days. Meanwhile, those arriving by air into Canada will now be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility or other suitable location. The travellers would remain in these facilities while they wait for the result of their on arrival test.

A full list of the countries on the Canada travel ban list include,

 1. Botswana

2. Egypt;

 3. Eswatini;

4. Lesotho;

 5. Malawi;

6. Mozambique;

7. Namibia;

8. Nigeria;

9. South Africa

10. Zimbabwe.

 Meanwhile it was reported that experts had warned that the country risks a series of travel bans following the detection of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 in South Africa. One of the experts, Professor Oyewale Tomori, said the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had failed in its responsibility of coordinating genomic sequencing of COVID-19 samples.

Tomori who is the chairman of the expert review on COVID-19 alleged that the NCDC has been bypassing samples to South Africa for testing despite having laboratories with the capability to run the process of genomic sequencing. Also, the NCDC has announced that Nigeria had recorded two cases of the Omicron variant of the disease. A statement by the centre said genomic sequencing of previously confirmed cases among travellers to Nigeria also identified the Omicron variant. The centre said the detection of the variant is from samples collected in October 2021 and that the two patients were asymptomatic and contact tracing had begun.