Kathmandu [Nepal], November 27 (ANI): Nepal has made a week-long quarantine compulsory for those arriving from South African Nations or using any of the nations as transit to prevent contraction of B.1.1.529 or the "Omicron" variant.
The spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population, Krishna Prasad Paudel, confirmed that it would be mandatory for all the passengers travelling from or via South African countries would require to undergo 7 days quarantine.
"Nepal and South Africa don't have direct flight connections but we will be stepping up screening and quarantine of passengers who will be travelling from those nations or use any of the African nations as transit. If there's a positive case amongst any of the passengers then we will send the samples for gene sequencing as well," Paudel confirmed ANI over the phone.
With the worldwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, Nepal had lifted mandatory quarantine measures for vaccinated travellers while unvaccinated need to undergo one-week isolation. But antigen test upon landing Nepal's only International airport- Tribhuwan International Airport has remained in the place.
The new strain also has been confirmed in Hong Kong, one of the nations with whom Nepal has a direct flight service. "Regarding the flight to and fro Hong Kong, meeting of COVID-19 Crisis Management Coordination Committee (CCMCC) scheduled for Sunday morning would decide on it," Spokesperson Paudel added.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday has named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. It was first reported to WHO from South Africa on Friday. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant, the WHO informed in a statement.
"In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021," the statement said.
This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) has advised the WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron.
"Existing coronavirus vaccines may be less effective against the new COVID-19 variant," a statement from WHO has warned. (ANI)