Morocco to halt international flights amid fears over Omicron variant

Decision to come into effect at 11.59 pm local time Monday, says country’s health authority.

Morocco to halt international flights amid fears over Omicron variant

Morocco announced Sunday that it will halt all incoming passenger flights for two weeks amid fears over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in South Africa last week.

According to a statement from the Moroccan Monitoring Committee of COVID-19, the country took the decision due to the quick spread of the new variant and in order to protect the gains made in the fight against the pandemic.

The decision will come into effect at 11.59 p.m. (2259GMT) local time Monday and will be evaluated regularly to make “adjustments if necessary,” it added.

South African scientists announced last week that they had discovered the Omicron variant, which has several mutations that may carry the risk of reinfection. The same variant was also detected in neighboring Botswana as well as Hong Kong and was first spotted on Nov. 12-22 before being announced Thursday.

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the strain a "variant of concern," naming it Omicron.

Several countries around the world have now banned flights from over half a dozen southern African nations including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini over fears of the new variant.

Hüseyin Demir