New Delhi: Pakistan placed a complete ban on travel from seven countries in the wake of the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, first detected in South Africa, according to a notification issued by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Dawn reported.Also Read - Supreme Court Set to Take Up All-Or-Nothing Abortion Fight

The notification said travel had been restricted from six southern African countries, namely South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana, and Namibia, as well as Hong Kong. Also Read - Karnataka Seeks Travel Ban on Passengers Coming From Nations Hit By Omicron Covid Variant

These countries, the NCOC added, had been placed in category C – which includes nations from where people face restrictions and can only travel to Pakistan under specific NCOC guidelines – consequent to the emergence of the Omicron strain in South Africa and its spread to adjoining regions. Also Read - South Africa Slams Countries Imposing Travel Bans on Fears of Omicron, Calls it 'Knee-Jerk Reaction'

Hence, “a complete ban has been placed on direct [and] indirect inbound travel from these countries with immediate effect.” Earlier, Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar announced the same in a tweet.

“Based on the emergence of the new Covid variant, notification has been issued [to] restrict travel from 6 South African countries and Hong Kong,” he said, adding that the “emergence of new variant makes it even more urgent to vaccinate all eligible citizens of 12 years and older”.

Travel from the seven countries to Pakistan would be allowed “on extreme emergency”, provided that the travellers obtained the required exemptions and followed the needed health and testing protocols, according to the NCOC’s notification, the report added.