England places four more countries on Omicron Covid travel red list

The red list changes for Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia take effect on Sunday morning

Boris Johnson announces new measures to fight the Omicron coronavirus variant

Boris Johnson announces new measures to fight the Omicron coronavirus variant
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Four more countries were added to England's red list for extra restrictions on travellers after it confirmed its first cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia will be added from 4am on Sunday, joining South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The EU has recommended restrictions on flights from southern Africa. Countries including the UAE, Australia and the US have imposed measures of varying forms.

They are an attempt to tackle the Omicron strain, which the World Health Organisation has identified as a variant of concern because of its infectiousness.

"We're not going to stop people travelling, but we will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday.

The UK has abandoned its traffic light system for international travel, but kept the red list on stand by in case there was need to tackle a new spread.

The country's health and transport departments are co-ordinating the response to Omicron.

Anyone who has travelled in the previous 10 days to the 10 countries now on the red list must self-isolate and take PCR tests.

Non-UK and Irish residents who have been in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola in the previous 10 days will be refused entry to England from 4am on Sunday.

Those who are permitted to return, including British and Irish citizens, will be ordered to isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days.

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“We will do all we can to protect the UK public against this emerging threat and that is why we are surging testing capacity to the affected communities and introducing travel restrictions on a further four countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.

“We will not hesitate to take further action if required. This is a real reminder to us all that this pandemic is far from over.”

The UK is the second European nation after Belgium to have reported the presence of Omicron, but there are suspected cases in at least three more countries.

“We will continue to work closely with the international community to quickly gather and analyse information on this variant to understand any possible increase in transmissibility or resistance to vaccines,” Prof Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said.

Countries as far apart as France, the US and Australia, have introduced travel restrictions to tackle the spread of Omicron.

It was first detected in southern Africa but has since been confirmed in Israel, Hong Kong, Belgium and the UK.

At least three other EU countries are testing cases to see if the variant is present.

Updated: November 28, 2021, 8:28 AM