Countries like Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay have imposed travel restrictions on people coming from some African nations. (GETTY IMAGES)
Especially after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared this variant of “high risk of contagion”.
Several countries in Europe reported cases and governments such as the United Kingdom and Israel, among others, imposed restrictions on flights from certain countries in southern Africa, where it was reported. the discovery of the new variant week pass.
In Latin America until Tuesday, no positives of the new strain had been reported. However, Mexican specialists indicated that it was “a matter of days” until the first cases appear.
For its part, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is analyzing the situation in the continent regarding the new variant, but indicated that last week it had called for attention due to the increase in infections due to, among other things , the low vaccination rate in some countries.
“In South America, almost all countries are reporting an increase in incidence, even in the Southern Cone. High infection rates are also being reported in the Caribbean ”, they reported during the organization’s weekly report.
In this sense, PAHO pointed out that there are 19 countries that have not reached the WHO goals of vaccinating 40% of the population by the end of 2021 And despite this, preventive measures are being lifted, even in places with a large population.
“Every time we let our guard down, the virus gains momentum,” explained PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.
At BBC Mundo we do a recount of the restrictions that some countries in Latin America have already imposed due to the arrival of omicron.
One of the countries that has suffered the most from the pandemic has been Brazil.
So far 22 million cases have been counted, that they have left 614.000 dead people.
However, in recent months it had managed to stabilize these numbers, so before the appearance of the new strain the central government made a series of announcements.
One of them is that this Monday, November 29, the country closed its borders for six African nations: South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
“We are going to protect Brazilians in this new phase of the pandemic,” Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira said on Twitter after announcing the measures.
It was also known that several cities in the country such as Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Florianópolis, Joao Pessoa and Palmas canceled their year-end parties due to to the appearance of the new strain.
Another country that took measures to control the entry of the new variant was Ecuador.
The president of this country, Guillermo Lasso, announced on Monday afternoon the decision to prohibit entry to Ecuadorian territory to any person whose point of origin, stopover or transit has been South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia.
Lasso also reported on the additional measures for the rest of travelers who want to enter Ecuadorian territory.
For example, whether they are nationals or foreigners, they must present a complete vaccination certificate along with a negative result of a PCR test carried out 72 hours before the trip.
Paraguay took similar measures before the appearance of omicron.
In an official statement, the Ministry of Public Health decreed a ban from entering the country of citizens of 10 African countries.
“It is determined not to allow entry to the country, for a time to be defined according to new evidence and epidemiological situation, for foreign travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia, Malawi, Zambia and Angola”, you can read in the statement.
The Paraguayan government makes it clear that humanitarian exceptions can be filed and pointed out that Paraguayans that come from these countries They must proceed to a 10-day quarantine and carry out PCR tests that will be monitored by the government.
For its part, the Guatemalan government announced that it will limit the access of people whose origin is, in the last 14 days, one of the following countries: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Egypt.
The president of the country, Alejandro Giammattei, pointed out that, although the cases of contagion of covid-19 in the country were decreasing, you had to be more careful because the season was approaching from December, when people tend to meet as a family.
The Ministry of Transport this week announced a ban on flights coming from South Africa until December 31.
In addition to this measure, it was ordered that nationals and foreigners who reside in Peru and who come from this African country must carry out a mandatory quarantine at home or in the place where they stay for 14 days.
Unlike the other governments that restricted the entry of citizens of these African countries, the Argentine Ministry of Health decided to order a mandatory quarantine for people coming from these countries.
According to the new measures, passengers who arrive in Argentina and have been in a country in Africa in the last 14 days must keep mandatory quarantine, from which they will leave once they test negative in a test carried out on the tenth day after taking the first sample.
The Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, pointed out during a press conference: “The identification of a new, more contagious covid-19 mutation forces the Argentine authorities to take precautions and promote vaccination in sectors of the population that have not yet completed the immunity scheme ”.
The Cuban government indicated that as of this Saturday, December 4, passengers from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi and Mozambique will have to quarantine for 7 days, show proof of vaccination and take three tests of PCR.
The Chilean government added the travel restrictions: “A As of Wednesday, December 1, the entry of non-resident foreigners will be prohibited who have spent the last 14 days in one of the following African countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Esuatani and Mozambique ”, can be read in an official statement.
In addition, they announced the decision that they were going to postpone the opening of the land borders with Peru and Argentina due to omicron.
“Due to the world situation of the omicron variant, we have decided to postpone the opening of the land crossings announced a few days ago,” Alberto Dougnac, Undersecretary of Healthcare Networks, told local media during a report on the situation of the pandemic in Chili.
Colombia ordered through its Ministry of Health that people who have had an African country as the origin of their trip must carry out a mandatory 10-day quarantine as soon as they enter the country if they present any type of symptoms.
President Iván Duque said that the decision is made taking into account the control made by other countries such as the United States, Brazil or those of the European Union -because Colombia does not have direct flights with African countries- that help to shield the country from the arrival of omicron.
“It is necessary to specify that people who have been in Africa in the last 15 days and who present any type of symptoms must inform the Colombian authorities and must also be in isolation,” said the president.
So far, most countries in the region have taken action. However, several are also analyzing the situation.
For example, Mexican President Andrés Manuel Obrador said: “We should not be scared because there is a lot of uncertainty, unconfirmed information, that’s what I can say, there is still no solid information, if this variant is more dangerous than the other variants, no there is that ”.
However, he did not rule out that measures be taken to protect the population.
Other governments such as Uruguay are analyzing the situation to take measures in this regard.