United Kingdom to lift COVID-19 travel ban on 11 African countries

The British government says it will lift a travel ban imposed on visitors from 11 African countries last month as the Omicron coronavirus variant spread.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told parliament on Tuesday that the countries will be removed from the UK’s COVID-19 travel red list effective Wednesday.

“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the U.K. and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” Javid said, according to Reuters. “We will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4 a.m. tomorrow morning,” he added.

The countries to be delisted are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Visitors from these countries must still be tested before and after they arrive in the same way as other countries’ arrivals.

The U.K. has recorded more than 4,700 omicron coronavirus cases, according to Reuters, with 10 of the infected people being hospitalized. At least one person in the U.K. has died after contracting the variant, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday.

Johnson is now deploying an increased push to encourage Britons to get their booster shots ahead of a “tidal wave of omicron.” The prime minister added that the U.K. is “facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant, omicron.

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