SWITZERLAND has banned all Brits from entering the country in a bid to contain a new strain of coronavirus.
Sajid Javid yesterday confirmed two cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been reported in the UK.
So far cases of the deadly Omicron Covid variant have appeared in Britain, Australia, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Czech Republic and Israel.
WHO first reported the new strain earlier this week after a case was reported in South Africa earlier this month, later calling it a "variant of concern," and that early evidence "suggests an increased risk of reinfection."
The new strain reportedly has a high number of mutations in the virus’ spike protein.
Now Switzerland has said only Swiss nationals and permanent residents can enter in a massive blow to Brits' Christmas getaway plans.
Swiss travellers from Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt and Malawi will also need to present a negative Covid-19 test and quarantine for ten days, the Federal Office of Public Health said in a tweet.
On Friday, Switzerland banned direct flights from South Africa and the surrounding region due to the detection of a new Covid-19 variant, while also imposing restrictions on travel from other countries including Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.
Two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant have also been detected in the southern German state of Bavaria and in Itlay, both neighbours of Switzerland, but Switzerland has thus far not imposed travel restrictions on any countries with which it shares borders.
And France's Health Minister today announced that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is probably already circulating in France, adding that the government was tightening restrictions to contain its spread.
Meanwhile Israel has barred entry to all foreign nationals, mandating quarantine for all Israelis arriving from abroad and red-listing travel to 50 African countries.
It also approved use of the Shin Bet internal security agency's controversial phone monitoring technology to perform contact tracing of individuals confirmed with the new omicron variant of coronavirus in Israel.
While much remains to be learned about the new variant, researchers are concerned that it may be more resistant to the protection provided by vaccines and could mean that the pandemic lasts for longer than anticipated.
Elsewhere in the world, Australian officials confirmed Sunday that two overseas travellers arriving in Sydney are the first to test positive in the country for the omicron variant of the coronavirus, as nations around the world tightened controls against the worrying new strain.
The two passengers were among a group of 14 others who arrived in Australia from southern Africa on Saturday, They were asymptomatic and were both vaccinated for COVID-19. The remaining 12 have been placed in quarantine.
Neighboring New Zealand announced it was restricting travel from nine southern African countries because of the threat posed by the variant, and Japan widened its border controls to include more countries from the region.
Tourist-dependent Thailand, which only recently began loosening its tight border restrictions to leisure travelers from certain countries, announced a ban of its own on visitors from eight African counties.
Similar restrictions took effect in the business hub of Singapore, which is barring entry and transit to anyone with a recent history of travel to seven southern African nations.
Sri Lanka banned disembarkation of passengers arriving from six African countries due to the detection of the omicron variant, as did the Maldives, the luxury Indian Ocean resort archipelago.
In addition to the similar entry ban, quarantine officials in the Philippines have been ordered to track down recent travelers from southern Africa and put them in a quarantine.
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