Omicron: Nepal bans way in of all African nationals over new Covid variant

Kathmandu: Due to the threat posed by the novel Omicron coronavirus type, Nepal's Home Ministry has decided to temporarily restrict nationals from all African nations from entering the country.

"In light of the high risks posed by the new coronavirus variant, we instructed our immigration offices on Sunday not to allow citizens of all African countries, except those with official or diplomatic passports, to enter the country with immediate effect," said Phanindramani Pokharel, a spokesman for the Ministry. He added, "African citizens who have already gotten Nepali visas from Nepali embassies overseas will not be allowed to enter Nepal."

"We gave them verbal instructions at first, and it will be formalised soon," he added, adding that the Ministry has not set a timeframe for the new rule because, according to reports, the threat of the new type is being studied globally. Pokharel made it clear that, for the time being, even vaccinated tourists from African countries would not be allowed into Nepal.

The latest variation B.1.1.529 of SARS-CoV-2, initially found in South Africa, was labelled "of concern" by the World Health Organization on Friday, the highest level of concern, and was given the Greek name Omicron. With the goal of boosting the tourism sector, Nepal restored the on-arrival visa service for foreign travellers fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in September.

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