Written by 1:28 am Travel

OMICRON CONCERN ON THE RISE: Govt bans travel from 8 African countries in light of new COVID variant

Bahamian residents and residents allowed to return but must quarantine at their very own expense

Sands: We should expect a fourth wave

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Health has advised that new travel restrictions have been placed on eight southern African countries amidst the invention of a new COVID-19 variant called omicron. 

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


In an announcement yesterday, the ministry indicated that as of November 29, non-Bahamian residents and residents who’ve traveled to, through or from those countries throughout the last 14 days won’t have the opportunity to enter The Bahamas. 

Meanwhile, Bahamian residents, residents and individuals with work permits returning will probably be required to quarantine for 14 days at their very own expense and can undergo screening as mandated by the ministry. 

This advisory applies to individuals who’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, the statement noted. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) identified the new COVID-19 omicron strain as a variant of concern on Wednesday. 

Early evidence suggests the variant, which was first identified in South Africa, could have a better re-infection risk, though studies are still ongoing.

The omicron variant has already been present in a minimum of a dozen countries world wide, including the UK, Australia and Germany, with reports identifying many of the cases in travelers getting back from the southern African region.

Other countries, including those within the European Union, Japan, Australia, the US and Canada, have also announced travel bans from African countries amidst the invention. 

Former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.

Amidst concern concerning the new variant, former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands on Saturday warned Bahamians to expect a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases.

He noted, nevertheless, that if vaccinations proceed to extend and Bahamians proceed to follow all protocols, The Bahamas can turn into a COVID-safe place for tourism.

“This thing that we thought we had a handle on is an elusive goal; it keeps changing and switching and mutating,” Sands said.

“…As we take a look at the situation in Europe and Great Britain and in The US, I’m absolutely convinced that just as we had challenges with delta, that we should expect a fourth wave.”

He said that while the outlook could also be “doom and gloom”, Bahamians should “prepare for the worst and hope for one of the best”.

“The general public health measures work and if we’re disciplined, we will walk and chew gum at the identical time,” Sands added.

“So, we’re able now to open up our economy, to generate revenue with a view to do the things that we’d like to do but stay protected, and I feel The Bahamas should reveal that we’re one of the best place for COVID-safe tourism. Let’s make that the goal.”

He further said it’s “not a matter of if but when” the omicron variant reaches the country, noting that only time will tell whether COVID-19 cases will see a continued uptick over the subsequent few days.

 Health officials confirmed 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, taking the variety of cases within the country to 22,763, with 280 energetic.

Minister of Health Dr Michael Darville.

There are currently 146,441 fully vaccinated people within the country, which incorporates Bahamians and residents who were fully vaccinated abroad and registered their jabs with the ministry. 

On Friday, Health Minister Dr Michael Darville urged Bahamians to prepare for the new variant that would threaten the country’s progress with a surge in cases.

Darville said more information concerning the new variant is forthcoming however the country couldn’t wait to act with urgency to diminish risks.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)