The Omicron Covid-19 variant identified and announced by South African scientists has been highlighted as a variant of concern and has since seen rapid changes to international travel, especially for Southern African countries.

Beside flight cancellations, there are mandatory hotel quarantine restrictions that have been imposed on those arriving in to England from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The UK government has since updated the red list to include Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia effective Sunday 28th November at 4am.

We have noted that countries such as Israel have with immediate effect placed all African countries except those in the north, on their red list despite their being no known cases in most countries outside the southern region.

With travelers returning to England from these countries now required to book into managed quarantine hotels from Sunday at such short notice, many will be concerned about the cost implications of the compulsory 10 day stay.

Others who have arrived from these countries in the preceding 7-10 days will be worried about possible infection should they be feeling unwell or experiencing emerging symptoms. This too will be of significance to those they may have come into contact with during this preceding period.

With previous experience of the victimisation of the Asian community on account of the virus, we are worried that the recipe for similar scapegoating of Africans and adjacent populations will ensue.

African Voices Platform has reached out to relevant Public Health officials to help with the provision of information that will support those arriving from the concerned countries and impacted by all the above.

We urge all African diaspora communities to continue following government guidelines for support and information as we await updates from local governments.

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