People wear masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 at a shopping mall in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Frida. Advisers to the World Health Organization declared the Omicron, which emerged there, a new variant of concern.

Hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the newly-identified coronavirus variant, Omicron, as a variant of concern, T&T has announced restrictions to entry for travellers from seven African countries.

According to a release from the Ministry of Health, those countries are Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

These restrictions went into place from midnight on Friday (November 26).

The ministry also warned citizens against travelling to the countries where the variant has been detected.

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa and has since been found in Botswana, Hong Kong and Belgium.

The ministry said all non-nationals who have visited the named countries within a 14-day period of their arrival to T&T will be denied entry into the country.

Citizens and permanent residents who have visited the listed countries within 14 days of their arrival to T&T will be allowed to enter the country but they must undergo state-supervised quarantine for 14 days.

“The public is advised that the traveller will be required to bear all associated costs and therefore should make the necessary arrangements prior to travel,” the ministry stated.

These conditions apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens and permanent residents.

The ministry said all other existing entry requirements, including negative COVID-19 tests, remain in place and must be followed.

“The Ministry of Health strongly advises against all non-essential travel to the aforementioned affected areas,” the release stated.