The World Health Organization (WHO) classified as “very high” the global risk associated with the omicron variant of the coronavirus, first detected in early November in South Africa, and urged the 194 member countries to implement policies on international travel depending on the risk of contagion.
Although the international body recognizes that there are still “considerable uncertainties” about its potential to “escape immunity” from vaccines and generate serious symptoms, many countries, including some Latin American nations, have already taken some measures to contain the advance. of the new variant.
The Chilean health authorities announced that as of December 1, prohibits the entry of non-resident foreigners what have been the last 14 days in these African countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Mozambique.
Likewise, Chileans and foreigners residing in Chile who have been in any of those countries in the last 14 days may enter the South American nation, but they must carry out a PCR at the point of entry and must also comply with a seven-day quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status and even if the PCR result is negative.
In addition to this, the opening of the Chacalluta, Pino Hachado and Colchane land passes is postponed, border with Peru, Argentina and Bolivia, respectively, which was scheduled for Wednesday, December 1. “This situation will be reevaluated in two weeks while waiting for the evolution of the national and international epidemiological situation of the omicron variant,” says the Chilean government in a statement.
The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, offered a message to the nation on Monday night, in which he reported the measures adopted by the country against the omicron variant and that will be in force from Wednesday, December 1.
First, he announced the prohibition of entry to the territory national to any person whose point of origin, stopover or transit is South Africa, Botswana, Egypt, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia.
Travelers from the rest of the world, nationals and foreigners, must present their complete vaccination certificate upon entering Ecuador and RT-PCR test with at least 72 hours of validity.
If a suspicious case is detected among travelers, an RT-PCR test will be carried out upon arrival in the country; and if positive, the person will complete 14 days of isolation.
Within the country, it was established that the Maximum capacity in massive events it will be 50%, which must comply with biosafety protocols; however, in public transport the allowed capacity is 100%. To enter all public sector buildings, the presentation of the complete vaccination certificate will be mandatory.
By Wednesday the opening of the border between Ecuador and Colombia. In this regard, Lasso pointed out that it will be carried out in phases and the first contemplates the international transport of goods.
In Argentina, through Administrative Decision 1163/2021 of the Cabinet Headquarters, published in the Official Gazette, the mandatory quarantine for any person who comes from or has been in the African continent in the last 14 days prior to entering Argentine territory.
In addition, for entry, travelers must have full vaccination doses with at least 14 days prior, have a proof of Negative PCR performed in the country of origin 72 hours prior and show a negative antigen test. Non-resident foreigners must add covid-19 health insurance to the requirements.
In Paraguay, for their part, the authorities restricted entry to the country, “for time to be defined according to new evidence and epidemiological situation” —according to a statement from the Ministry of Health—, to foreign travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola.
For Paraguayan nationals who come from these countries, a preventive quarantine was established at home for a minimum of 10 days and a PCR test was carried out. These travelers will be monitored by phone.
The Guatemalan Ministry of Health declared the health alert by the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Likewise, the authorities of this Central American country they limited entry to the country to all foreigners from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Egypt.
The entry is allowed to Guatemalans, foreigners with permanent residence in Guatemala, diplomatic corps accredited in the country and aircraft crews that have been in those countries; but, for this they must comply with 10 days of quarantine in the place indicated.
The Cuban Ministry of Health also announced “new measures to strengthen the control of international travelers, which will come into effect on December 4.
According to the state institution, travelers from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi and Eswatini must comply with the presentation of a complete vaccination schedule, the negative result of a PCR-RT carried out a maximum of 72 hours prior to the trip, undergo another test for RT-PCR, perform a mandatory quarantine for seven days in a hotel designated for that purpose.
Brazil, for its part, closed its air borders to travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini, the Minister of the Presidency, Ciro Nogueira, reported last Friday.
“We are going to protect Brazilians in this new phase of the pandemic,” Nogueira said.
In Colombia, President Iván Duque announced last Saturday that the health emergency by the covid-19 extends once again, from November 30 to February 28, 2022.
Regarding the measures for the omicron variant, measures will be applied for travelers arriving from any country on the African continent; however, so far it will only affect, and will include isolation, for people with symptoms of the disease.
“Colombia does not have direct flights to or from Africa. Any passenger from Africa who comes to our country would have to transit, either through the US, or through Europe, or through Brazil. Two countries, like the US. The US and Brazil have already imposed restrictions, and the European Union has also put restrictions, which is why this measure also has an additional protection element for us, “said the president.
In Mexico, for his part, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured that his Government will be attentive to take the pertinent measures and protect the health of Mexicans.
However, he invited citizens not to be scared, since there is still “a lot of uncertainty” and “unconfirmed information” about the new variant of the coronavirus.
This Tuesday, in his morning press conference, he mentioned that the situation that is currently being experienced with the new variant of the coronavirus is due to the lack of vaccines against covid-19 in Africa, due to the abandonment by the Covax mechanism, driven by the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote equitable access to drugs.
“What is happening with the new variant is that the vaccines did not reach Africa,” said the president, adding: “It is not that the new variant is terrible, it is that the world’s poor were abandoned, as it usually happens.” .
Edgar Romero G.
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