A healthcare worker assists a traveller to obtain his test results after conducting a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

People infected with the Omicron COVID-19 variant are not permitted to leave South Africa, the country's embassy in Moscow told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"South Africa follows and enforces globally recognised COVID-19 health protocols on travel. No infected individuals are permitted to leave the country," the embassy said.

The embassy also said that South Africa respects the rights of other countries to take all necessary measures to protect their citizens.

"Our immediate concern is the damage that these restrictions are causing to families, the travel and tourism industries and business. South Africa has already started engaging countries that have imposed travel bans with the view to persuade them to reconsider," the embassy added.

On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. The WHO has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.

Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered.

The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.

Source: ANI / Sputnik