The Omicron variant

The UK government has we announced that from noon on Friday, several southern African countries were added to our travel red list as a precautionary move following the spread of a new variant.

  • As part of the UK's close surveillance of variants across the world, we have become aware of the spread of a new potentially concerning variant, which UKHSA has designated a Variant under Investigation. The WHO has designated this the Omicron variant.
  • That is why from midday on Friday, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia were put back on the UK’s travel red list. Passengers arriving in England from 4am on Sunday will be required to book a hotel quarantine facility for 10 days. Those arriving from these six countries between midday Friday and 4am Sunday, and who have been in these countries within the last 10 days, must quarantine for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test booked.
  • The UK government is taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and is monitoring the situation closely.


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