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Coronavirus

Nepal to ban arrivals from eight African countries, Hong Kong over Omicron fears

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Nepal will ban the entry of travelers who have been in eight African countries or Hong Kong, to curb the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, a government spokesman said on Friday.

The ban, which goes into effect at midnight on Friday, covers people who have been in or transiting through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi and Hong Kong.

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travelers who have been to these countries in the past three weeks will also not be allowed to enter Nepal, and all other international visitors already in transit must spend seven days at their own cost in hotel quarantine, the government said in a statement.

“Nepali nationals are advised against non-essential foreign travel for fear of the new variant,” Home Ministry spokesman Phanindra Pokharel told Reuters.

Government employees and delegates to international conferences must obtain prior permission for their visits.

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The variant - identified first in South Africa, but also detected in Europe, Asia and the US - is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

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