More Countries to Tighten Travel Rules

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More countries have tightened travel restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

The United States, Japan and Malaysia have announced tighter travel restrictions as more countries confirmed their first cases.

Japan and Hong Kong said on Wednesday they would expand travel curbs and Malaysia temporarily banned travellers from countries deemed at risk.

Malaysia temporarily barred travellers from eight African countries and said Britain and the Netherlands could join the list.

British tourists travelling to Spain now require a certificate proving they are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Europe continues to battle rising Covid cases as travel bans take effect to slow the spread of Omicron.

In Australia, police have arrested three people who broke out of a Covid quarantine compound in the middle of the night.

The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from Omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence. It further said it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”

The new variant was first identified in Botswana, before it rapidly outcompeting other versions of the virus in the region of South Africa that includes Johannesburg.

A health official calls it “the most significant variant” to date, but the UK didn’t confirm any cases to date.

“It is bad news, but it’s not doomsday,” an Oxford scientist tells the BBC.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the UK is taking a “safety-first approach” in regard to the travel ban.

Nine countries including Germany, Italy, Israel and Singapore have also restricted travel.

The World Health Organization will hold a special meeting later today to discuss the variant.