The United Kingdom government has said that all 11 African countries will be removed from its travel red list effective 4am, Wednesday, because there is now community transmission of Omicron in Britain, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told parliament.
The red list was reintroduced in late November as a precaution after the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong.
That meant that only UK citizens or residents arriving from those nations were allowed in and then had to quarantine in a hotel.
“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” Javid said.
“We will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4 a.m. tomorrow morning.”
All UK arrivals from red list countries were required to pay for and self-isolate in a pre-booked, government-approved hotel for 10 days.
But with all 11 countries being removed from that list, it was confirmed that those currently in managed quarantine would be allowed to leave early and “follow the rules as if they had arrived from a non-red list country”.
The 11 countries which will be removed are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Britain has registered more than 4,700 cases of Omicron, with 10 people hospitalised, and one person has died after contracting the variant. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday Britain was facing a “huge spike” in Omicron cases.