BANGKOK — The government moved to ban travel from 8 African nations where a new variant of the coronavirus was reported. Flights will also be arranged to bring back Thai nationals living in those countries.
Citizens living in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe must apply for Certificate of Entry in order to return to Thailand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. Returnees will be put in quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Thailand.
The Ministry said a chartered Ethiopian Airlines flight will be sent to Ethiopia every Wednesday throughout December for Thai nationals who wish to return home.
Visitors from the eight African countries are already prohibited from entering Thailand as a result of an order issued by the Ministry of Public Health over the weekend. The Ministry said the travel ban is necessary to prevent the spread of a new Omicron variant which has since been discovered in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Germany, Israel, among other places.
Issuance of the “Thailand Pass” has also been suspended for those travelling from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The order is in effect until further notice. Thai nationals travelling from high risk countries are allowed to return home.
Those from other African countries travelling to Thailand will need to undergo a quarantine period at a certified hotel or facility for 14 days.
They will also be required to take three RT-PCR tests before being released. Those travellers are not eligible to enter under the “sandbox” scheme or Test & Go quarantine exemption programme.
The Omicron variant is designated by the World Health Organisation as a “variant of concern” and described by the agency as having a higher risk of contagion, though little else is known about the strain at this time.