Cambodia bans travelers from 10 African countries to curb Omicron variant

Cambodia on Monday midnight imposed restrictions on travel from 10 countries in Africa to avert the spread of a new strain of COVID-19 known as Omicron or B.1.1.529, the country's Health Minister Mam Bunheng said.

The 10 countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and Zambia, he said in a statement, adding that those who have a history of traveling to the 10 countries in the last three weeks are also banned from entering Cambodia.

"The move is to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant to Cambodia and the ban will take effect within 48 hours after this statement is released," he said.

The Omicron variant, first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on Nov. 24, has not yet been detected in Cambodia.

WHO representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said Cambodia should be concerned about the newly detected variant of Omicron despite the high COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

"Everyone should be ready for a possible surge, and we should continue to learn and adjust our response measures," she said in a statement on Saturday.

She added that COVID-19 vaccination remains vital, especially for protecting the high risk and vulnerable populations such as health care workers and the elderly.

Cambodia reported 25 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking the national total caseload to 120,112, the Ministry of Health said, adding that four more fatalities were confirmed, bringing the death toll to 2,935. 

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