On December 1, 2021, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), has officially added Nigeria, Malawi, and Egypt amid a suspected omicron outbreak. This development was a follow-up to the recently reported cases of Omicron in those countries.
The Canadian Government took this step to curtail the spread of this more deadly variant of the coronavirus. Nigeria, Malawi, and Egypt now join seven other south African countries underlined earlier, including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique.
According to CIC News, Canadians who have travelled to those countries in the past 14 days will be denied entry into Canada pending a thorough quarantine. However, permanent residents will be permitted a return home but must be tested and certified to be COVID-19 negative in a third-party country before landing in Canada, as disclosed by Canada’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos.
In his statement, he said,
“Today, we are banning entry for foreign nationals that have travelled to Southern Africa in the last 14 days. We will also make testing mandatory for all Canadians entering Canada and having travelled to Southern Africa in the last 14 days”.
This announcement was made on November 26, 2021, nearly a week before more than three independent African states were added, making it ten nations on Canada’s omicron ban list.
With this announcement comes huge uncertainty for Canadian visa applicants and travellers. People coming into Canada from the underlisted countries will henceforth prove their COVID-19 and Omicron negative status to gain entry. It will be a difficult moment for Canadian families outside Canada who will be returning home for the Christmas celebration.
The procedure for the tests and quarantine is bound to limit the daily number of travellers and flights per day. Therefore, it’s expected that this ban on ten African countries will indirectly affect Canada’s economy as 20% of permanent residents in Canada come from those countries on the ban list.
About Omicron, The New COVID-19 Variant
The variant B.1.1.529 named Omicron is among the seven already known variants of COVID-19 discovered in South Africa last month and designated on November 26 by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The variant was named after the 15th Greek alphabet. The emergence of this new variant adds to the global tensions caused by COVID-19 and its impacts on travel and the economy.
What are the likely Symptoms of Omicron?
According to the available data, the symptoms of the omicron variant are less severe. Therefore, they can be treated at home. Most cases of Omicron had been first reported as being fatigued with headaches and body aches.
Since the omicron variant is mainly associated with people at 40 years old and younger, there’s a hope that strong natural immunity can withstand further dangers of exposure to the virus. There are also indications that victims of omicron infection would have a drastic change of taste and smell, continuous cough, and an unusually high temperature.
Potential cure of Omicron according to research
The emergence of the omicron variant has raised the alarm among virologists because of its remarkable symptoms and characteristics. However, early testing and observations are ongoing to check how effective the existing Pfizer and Merck COVID-19 drugs will be on the new variant.
The omicron variant has more than 30 mutations in those parts of the virus where the existing vaccines currently target and may give rise to other subsequent regenerative viral infections.
Impacts of Canada’s ban over Omicron on travel and tourism
The emerging news of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 and the rising number of countries placed in Canada’s travel ban list has put crimps in people’s travel plans in mid-December and early 2022. Across the world, Christmas plans may remain in the fridge and many people hoping to get season deals may have to wait till infinity.
Two Omicron Cases Leads to Canada’s Ban on Travellers from Nigeria
Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) recently announced two confirmed cases of omicron variant of COVID-19. Reports from NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory in Abuja ascertained that these two discovered cases were linked to two passengers arriving from South Africa.
The discovery was made by genomic sequencing of positive patients through the daily testing of travellers. As at this time, contact tracing to identify possible connections and spread of the variant in the country has commenced.
Malawian Government Denies Omicron Outbreak and Accuses Canada of “Africa Phobia”
The Malawian president, Lazarus Chakwera, has slammed the recent inclusion of the country alongside nine other African countries into Canada’s ban list for omicron outbreaks as Afrophobia. In his Facebook post a few days ago, he stated that:
“Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia.”
Instead of restricting Malawi and other southern African nations, Mr. Chakwera has beckoned the world to thank South African scientists who detected the coronavirus variant in November this year. The first travel bans on Malawi against Omicron came from the UK, European Union, US, Australia, and Canada. Something he said is uncalled for and unjustifiable.
Also, we previously announced extension of travel bans for India and Pakistan.