The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) places several African countries on its “code red” list.
The countries concerned are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini and Malawi. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also advised against traveling to these countries in the next two weeks.
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– This is an expression that this virus can surprise us and that what is happening far from us can be very close. “That’s why we are following European countries now and introducing quarantine duties for people coming to Norway from these countries,” Støre told NTB.
Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl (Sp) said that the aim was to delay the spread of the variant in Norway. The new restrictions are in effect from midnight to Saturday.
South Africa reacts strongly
The country’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla condemned the travel restrictions that a number of countries, including Norway, have imposed on South Africa and six neighboring countries.
“These travel restrictions are completely against the norms and standards set by WHO,” he said at a news conference on Friday, according to Reuters.
He also encouraged South Africans to be vaccinated. South Africa only fully vaccinates 23.8 percent of the population, but it still tops the list on the continent as many other African countries are just starting to vaccinate. The head of the South African Medical Association, Angelique Coetzee, has called the international reaction a “storm in a glass of water”, according to the BBC.
– We must delay and limit the spread of the virus variant detected in South Africa to Norway. Therefore, we are now tightening measures for travelers from this area, said Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.
Gahr Støre further said that it is mandatory for everyone to stay in quarantine hotels for ten days, but you can test yourself after at least three days have passed.
– We know that infections that come with entering have caused them to develop earlier and when we find out about this early, early steps with control restrictions and quarantines can help protect us, said the Prime Minister.
The variant, named B. 1.1,529, prompted the European Commission to propose a halt to air traffic from countries in southern Africa. Britain, Italy and Germany introduced air strikes earlier today. The World Health Organization (WHO) came out early on Friday afternoon and warned against the rapid introduction of new travel restrictions due to the virus variant.
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Against WHO advice
The introduction of the quarantine came against advice from the World Health Organization, which warned countries against imposing entry restrictions for now.
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– Our assessment is that there is an appropriate action to be taken and is based on the advice of the National Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Directorate of Health. I haven’t seen WHO’s advice, but I have sat in meetings with FHI and the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and I have reviewed this thoroughly with them and am convinced that it is the right thing to do. , said Toko.
The new virus variant is given the name omicron, the World Health Organization (WHO) said late Friday. In a statement, the WHO said the new virus variant was “a cause for concern”.