In a wake of global fear of new coronavirus variant Omicron, Nepal has decided to put a ban on nine countries including Hong Kong.
A meeting of the council of ministers has decided to ban entry of passengers arriving from and transiting South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi and Hong Kong.
As per the officials, travellers who have been to any of these nine countries in past three weeks also will be restricted from entering the Himalayan Nation.
"As per the order passed by the cabinet meeting earlier on Monday, new restrictions on arrival from those 9 nations has been imposed. It already has gone into effect from Friday early morning. All the concerned authorities have been duly informed," Phadindramani Pokhrel, spokesperson at the Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed to ANI over phone.
Diplomatic staff and officials from the nations which now has been banned to enter Nepal would need to follow the public health protocols which include mandatory one week quarantine, the official added.
In wake of the further spread of the new strain of COVID Omicron, the government also has requested people not to go abroad until it's necessary. Along with this, it has been made mandatory for all government employees to take prior permission before embarking on foreign visits.
Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered.
The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.
The WHO on Saturday has named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. It was first reported to WHO from South Africa earlier week.
The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant, the WHO informed in a statement.
This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.
Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) has advised the WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron.