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Thailand Pass Suspension for African Countries Lifted

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  • Thailand Pass Suspension for African Countries Lifted

    Thailand Pass Suspension for 8 South African Countries

    World travel destinations are moving to block flights from up to 10 African countries following the discovery of the Omicron Covid-19 variant this week. Officially, the new variant is designated B1.1.529. This is the latest information about the current status on Omicron. The new Covid-19 mutation was first reported to the World Health Organisation on Wednesday this week, by scientists from South Africa. Whilst it has been reported first in South Africa it has not yet been determined where the mutation may have emerged.

    Early evidence and genome sequencing is suggesting the Omicron variant has a higher re-infection risk than early strains of the Covid-19 coronavirus. With more than 30 different mutations on the virus’ spike protein, the part that binds to a human cell and infecting it, Omicron “could both be more transmissible and have more mechanisms to evade immunity already conferred by vaccines or prior infection”, according to Dr. Angelique Coetzee, head of the South African Medical Association.

    The earliest known case of the Omicron Covid variant was on November 9, according to the WHO, and the mutation was first detected last Wednesday in South Africa. While the delta variant is still the dominant strain worldwide, accounting for 99.9 percent of current cases in the US for example, the discovery of Omicron coincides with a surge of new South African infections, an over 1,000 percent increase over the past 2 weeks.

    In response, countries around the world are racing to introduce flight and travel bans on southern African countries in an effort to contain the variant’s spread. The swift response threw travel plans out of the African continent into confusion as airlines cancelled outbound flights.

    In Thailand, the Thailand Pass website now says…. “the issuance of Thailand Pass for travelers from the following 8 countries will be temporarily suspended…

    1. Botswana
    2. Eswatini
    3. Lesotho
    4. Malawi
    5. Mozambique
    6. Namibia
    7. South Africa
    8. Zimbabwe

    People coming from all other countries in the African region must now pay for 14 day alternative quarantine when they arrive in Thailand. The announcement followed other Asian countries tightening borders over the latest concerns.
    • The Israel PM Naftali Bennett has announced “sweeping travel restrictions covering most of Africa” following the indemnification of a positive Omicron case on Friday. “We are on the verge of a state of emergency.”
    • The UK’s health secretary Sajid Javid has announced that 2 people in the UK have been found infected with the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.
    • The new variant has also been identified in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. Several other EU destinations, including Germany and the Czech Republic, say they are investigating suspected Omicron cases.
    The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control made a statement on Friday, saying that, “given the variant’s immune escape potential and potentially increased transmissibility advantage compared to Delta (Covid variant), there is a high to very high risk it will spread in Europe. More worrying, 2 flights carrying up to 600 passengers out of South Africa – 1 from Cape Town and 1 from Johannesburg – landed on Friday at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Dutch health authorities have now confirmed 61 of the passengers tested positive for Covid-19, but it hasn’t been determined if they’ve been infected with the Omicron variant.

    “The combination of mutations represents a significant potential risk to accelerate the waning of natural and vaccine-induced immunity”.
    Omicron is the latest variant of Covid-19, but it won’t be the last. The biggest issue for health authorities now is to find out if Omicron has additional resistance to the current Covid vaccines being used around the world. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health on Rhode Island, US, believes the variant will create a situation where “vaccines will be rendered useless.” Yesterday he said “there’s more reason for concern with Omicron”.

    “We have seen a lot of variants pop up over the last 5, 6 months, and most of them have not amounted to much. This looks different. It’s acting differently, it looks like it’s much more contagious than even the Delta variant.” Moderna, manufactuers of one of the mRNA Covid vaccines, made a statement late on Friday, saying the new Omicron variant is “believed to increase transmissibility and mutations seen in the Beta and Delta variants that are believed to promote immune escape”.
    AstraZeneca, which is also manufactured in Thailand, is saying that it’s looking to understand the impact Omicron has on its vaccine. AZ is not currently authorised for use in the US.

    “AstraZeneca is also already conducting research in Botswana and Eswatini, that will enable us to collect real world data of Vaxzevria against this new virus variant,”
    a spokesperson for the company said Friday. AZ is also testing its antibody treatment, AZD7442, against the variant. BioNTech, the German company that partnered with Pfizer to produce its mRNA Covid vaccine, are also testing the impact of Omicron on their vaccine. They expect preliminary results in the next few weeks. Johnson & Johnson announced in a statement that the company was also testing the effectiveness of its vaccine against the new variant.

  • #2
    Thailand entry restrictions on African countries in response to Omicron
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    In response to the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 strain, which is designated by the World Health Organisation as a “variant of concern,” the Thai government has set a travel ban on those from eight African countries said to be of high risk of the newly found variant and imposed restrictions on those from other countries in Africa.

    Issuance of the Thailand Pass QR code has been suspended for those travelling from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The order is in effect until further notice. Thai nationals travelling from the high risk countries are allowed to return home.

    Those from other African countries travelling to Thailand will need to undergo a quarantine period at a certified hotel or facility for 14 days. They will undergo three RT-PCR Covid-19 tests before being released. Those travellers are not eligible to enter under the “sandbox” scheme or Test & Go quarantine exemption programme.


    • #3
      Phuket officials order quarantine for more than 100 travellers from South Africa

      More than 100 travellers from South Africa who entered Thailand over the past two weeks have been ordered to quarantine for 14 days as a preventative measure following the emergence of the Omicron variant. Nationwide, the Thai Immigration Bureau and the Public Health Ministry are working to track down a total of more than 780 people who travelled from African countries since November 15.

      Along with the 126 people who travelled from South Africa, four people who entered Thailand from Namibia between November 15 and 27 are also ordered to quarantine for 14 days due to the risk of Omicron. All of the 130 travellers must undergo an RT-PCR test before they are released from quarantine.

      South Africa and Namibia are two of the eight African countries classified by the Thai government as a high risk for Omicron. Following reports of the new variant, issuance of the Thailand Pass was suspended for the eight African countries, which include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Travellers from other African countries must now quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

      Since November 1, the Phuket International Airport has welcomed a total of 32,360 passengers from overseas. Out of the number, 16,446 arrived under the Test & Go quarantine exemption scheme, with 23 of them testing positive for Covid-19 upon arrival, while 15,914 people entered under the “sandbox” island quarantine programme, with 39 of them testing positive. None of the travellers who tested positive came from the high risk countries.


      • #4
        PM Prayut Chan-o-cha vows to prevent Omicron from reaching Thai soil

        Thailand’s prime minister has urged the public not to panic, but to remain vigilant against the new Omicron virus, according to government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana yesterday. He added that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha also encouraged people to get fully vaccinated in order to boost group immunity and ensure everyone’s safety, as adequate vaccines are now available for all Thais.

        As foreign tourists continue to flock to the country, the PM has instructed agencies involved in public health, national security, transportation, and tourism to be on high alert and screen travellers to prevent the Covid-19 strain from entering Thailand.

        “We will do everything we can as a government to prevent Omicron from spreading into Thailand.”
        Thanakorn added that the government is seeking plans to speed up immunisations for everyone. The new variant has been found in many countries across Europe, as well as some regions in Asia, including South Korea and Japan. Lockdowns have been put in place in some countries, with Japan banning all foreign nationals from entering the country.


        • #5
          Travel ban and restrictions lifted for those travelling from African countries

          Thailand is lifting its travel ban on the eight African countries that were considered to be at high risk of the Omicron variant when the mutated strain was first detected. Restrictions for those travelling from other African countries will also be lifted. The revised measures go into effect on January 11.2022

          The countries being removed from Thailand’s ban list include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Travellers from other African countries will no longer be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. The restrictions were imposed by the Thai government as an emergency measure in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

          The Sandbox programme will be open to all vaccinated travellers, regardless of what country they travelled from. Those who are unvaccinated must undergo a 10-day quarantine.

          During today’s CCSA press briefing, the deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said…

          “International travellers from all countries can enter Thailand while undergoing the same measures.”