No Omicron yet, Thailand says after barring travel from 8 African nations

Photo: Suvarnabhumi Airport
Photo: Suvarnabhumi Airport

Health officials said they have yet to detect the new virus mutation that has the world on alarm a day after they barred travel from the region it was first discovered.

As governments worldwide anxiously reimpose travel restrictions in a bid to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Thailand today said no cases have been detected despite it’s appearance worldwide from Canada and Europe to Hong Kong and Australia.

It became the latest to curb travel from South Africa, where the virus was first found, as well as Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Malawi – starting Wednesday. 

No flights from those countries will be eligible under Thailand’s Test & Go system, which allows travelers from abroad to skip quarantine, or the “Sandbox” projects which limit movement upon arrival. 

Kiattiphum Wongrakit of the Health Ministry said Thailand assured the public that officials are alert and prepared for the possible threat.

The B.1.1.529 variant is the most-mutated strain of the virus yet, and scientists fear current vaccines in circulation may not be effective against it. It will be some weeks before enough data can be analyzed to determine whether those fears are founded. The World Health Organization said it’s not yet clear whether the variant is more transmissible or can cause a more severe version of the disease.

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