US announces travel restrictions over new Covid-19 variant

By Fernando Alfonso III and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 3:55 PM ET, Sat November 27, 2021
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9:25 a.m. ET, November 27, 2021

2 cases of Omicron variant detected in the UK, health secretary says

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau

Two cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the United Kingdom, the country’s Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid said on Saturday.

Javid tweeted that the two cases were linked and that there was a connection with travel to southern Africa.

“These individuals are self-isolating with their households while further testing and contact tracing is underway,” he added.

The Health Secretary said targeted testing would be rolled out in the affected areas (of Nottingham and Chelmsford) as well as sequencing of all positive cases.

Javid said Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola would be added to the UK’s travel red list, effective from 4 a.m. Sunday.

“If you have returned from there in the last 10 days you must isolate and get PCR tests,” his tweet said.

A country being on the “red list” means that UK residents, as well as British and Irish nationals arriving home from that red list point of departure, must undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

8:31 a.m. ET, November 27, 2021

"High probability" the Omicron variant has already arrived in Germany, state minister says

From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen and Nadine Schmidt

The Omicron variant has probably arrived in Germany, a state minister for Hesse said Saturday.

“Several mutations that are typical for Omicron were found last night in a person returning from South Africa,” Kai Klose, the Minister for Social Affairs and Integration for the State of Hesse tweeted. Germany’s largest international airport is located in Frankfurt in Hesse.

“There is a high probability and the person has been placed in home quarantine. The full sequencing has not been completed yet,” Klose added and urged people who recently returned from Southern Africa to avoid contacts and get tested.

Like many other countries, Germany has banned flights from South Africa since the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant there. However, the ban only kicked in on Saturday morning, meaning flights arriving before then landed in Germany as scheduled.

8:21 a.m. ET, November 27, 2021

Czech Republic reports first suspected case of Omicron Covid-19 variant

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova

Health authorities in the Czech Republic are investigating a suspected case of the Omicron variant in a traveler who has recently arrived from Namibia, the Czech National Institute of Public Health said in a statement emailed to CNN Saturday. 

The institute said that that a PCR test indicated the infection could have been caused by the Omicron variant, but added that a full sequencing of the sample needs to be completed in order to confirm this. It said the sequencing work is underway.

If confirmed, it would be the first case of the new and potentially more transmissible variant in the Czech Republic.

The Czech government has also imposed a travel ban on foreign travelers from eight African nations. As of midnight local time Nov. 27, foreign travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique will not be allowed to enter the Czech Republic, according to the government website.

Czech citizens and permanent residents returning to the Czech Republic are allowed to come but will be required to go into isolation for 10 days.


8:09 a.m. ET, November 27, 2021

Philippines temporarily suspends flights from 7 African countries

From Wayne Chang and Lauren Lau

The Philippines has temporarily suspended entry of flights from seven African countries amid concerns over the Covid-19 Omicron variant, state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported. 

Inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique are suspended until Dec. 15. 

The Philippine government is also looking to expand its travel ban to more countries as it monitors the latest development of the variant, PNA reported, citing a senior health official.

“We have an ongoing discussion and expect that there will be developments within the day or by tomorrow on the possible expansion of the list but of course the decision will be based on the data that we will get,” Dr. Beverly Ho, director of the Health Promotion Bureau and the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said in a press briefing.