Australia is banning the entry of foreign citizens who have traveled to nine southern African countries in the previous 14 days over concerns of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant.
The nine countries include South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a news conference on Saturday.
Australian citizens, though allowed into Australia, will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, Hunt added.
“We'll just note that there are 20 people in quarantine in Howard Springs in the Northern Territory who’ve arrived from South Africa in the last week,” he said, noting the country is prepared to strengthen existing rules if the situation changes.
No cases of the Omicron variant have yet been identified in Australia, and there are no direct flights from the areas of concern to the country. But some travelers have flown into quarantine-free areas from South Africa over the past two weeks and the Australian government is now chasing them up to conduct Covid tests.