The World Health Organization officially listed the mutated covid-19 variant omicron as a “variant of concern” on Friday, setting off a wave of panic from governments around the globe. And while it’s too early to panic, since we don’t yet know if omicron is more transmissible or more deadly, that didn’t stop many countries from banning international travel from several nations where the variant has been identified.
Where has the omicron variant been spotted so far? Omicron has popped up in 16 countries and at least 44 countries have set up new travel bans in an effort to keep the variant out. And while the U.S. isn’t currently on the list of countries with omicron, experts believe it’s already within U.S. borders. Two cases have already been confirmed in neighboring Canada.
“It’s almost definitely here already, just looking at the number of cases coming off planes this weekend. It’s almost a certainty that there have been cases that have gotten into the United States,” former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS Face the Nation on Sunday.
Scientists in South Africa were the first to identify the new variant last week thanks to its world-leading virus tracking, but omicron almost certainly didn’t originate there. And it could be a couple of weeks before we actually know whether omicron is more dangerous than covid-19 variants like delta—a variant that’s still killing roughly 1,000 Americans each day.
Below we have a list of countries that have discovered cases of the omicron variant of covid-19 either within the community or in a plane upon landing at its destination, along with links out to read more:
- Australia (5 cases)
- Austria (1 case)
- Belgium (1 case)
- Botswana (19 cases)
- Canada (2 cases)
- Czech Republic (1 case)
- Germany (3 cases)
- Hong Kong (3 cases)
- Israel (2 cases)
- Italy (3 cases)
- Malawi (1 case)
- Mozambique (1 case)
- Netherlands (13 cases)
- South Africa (13 cases)
- Switzerland (1 case)
- United Kingdom (9 cases)
Many countries like the U.S. have banned travel from nine countries in southern Africa, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Some of the countries on the prohibited list haven’t even detected any cases of the new variant yet, like Seychelles, Lesotho, and Namibia. And some countries have extended travel bans to include other jurisdictions where the new variant has been identified.
For example, the Philippines has banned travel from seven European countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries or jurisdictions or territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement to China’s Xinhua news outlet.
India has also revised its border control policies and anyone traveling into the country from designated “high-risk” areas will need to self-quarantine for seven days. The list includes many of the countries already identified by the Philippines, but also has Bangladesh, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel, according to CNN.
Other countries are being even more restrictive and closing their doors completely. Japan is putting a stop to the arrival of all foreign nationals starting on Tuesday, while Israel and Morocco announced they were doing the same thing over the weekend.