Jamaica imposes travel restrictions on eight countries over new COVID-19 variant

Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton

The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOH) has imposed restrictions on travellers from eight countries over concerns of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The travel ban comes into effect immediately.

The countries include Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The Ministry said all persons who are not citizens or permanent residents of Jamaica and who have visited the list of countries within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into the island.

Residents and citizens of Jamaica who have visited the list of countries within the last 14 days will be subjected to a mandatory state-supervised quarantine for no less than 14 days.

Against the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), a host of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada Iran, Japan, Thailand and the United States, joined others, including the European Union and the UK in imposing restrictions on southern African countries in response to warnings over the transmissibility of the new variant.

Trinidad’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has also imposed restrictions on travellers from the eight countries listed.

The global health body has named the new variant omicron, labelling it a variant of concern because of its high number of mutations and some early evidence that it carries a higher degree of infection than other variants.

That means people who contracted COVID-19 and recovered could be subject to catching it again. It could take weeks to know if current vaccines are less effective against it.