One week after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) barred Nigerian travellers from the country over rising cases of the Omicron COVID-19 virus; the Arab nation has gone further as it has added eight more African countries to its travel ban list.
Consequently, Emirates Airlines, the UAE-based carrier, will no longer accept travellers originating from Angola, Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ethiopia. Outbound passenger flights to the aforementioned destinations will not be affected.
Passengers originating from or have transited through in the last 14 days the aforementioned nations will not be allowed to travel to Dubai.
The flight ban came into effect from midnight of December 28, just as the carrier also clarified that customers originating from Conakry (Guinea) to Dakar (Senegal) will not be accepted for travel. All outbound flights from Dubai to these destinations are not affected.
The move by Emirates adds to its list of banned African countries, which also include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Emirates previously offered exemptions for certain travellers from African countries. This included UAE nationals (and their first-degree relatives and domestic helpers) plus UAE Golden Visa holders, provided they self-quarantine and return a negative PCR test upon arrival.
Emirates have advised passengers booked on the above services that they do not need to contact the airline to reschedule their booking. Instead, customers can keep hold of their booking and get in touch with their booking office or travel agent as soon as flights are resumed.
Meanwhile, just five African countries, less than 10% of Africa’s 54 nations, are projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of their people unless efforts to accelerate the pace take off. This comes as the Region grapples to meet the rising demand for essential vaccination commodities, such as syringes.
Three African countries, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Morocco have already met the goal that was set in May by the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body. At the current pace, just two more countries, Tunisia and Cape Verde will also hit the target.
In addition, limited access to crucial commodities such as syringes may slow the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa. UNICEF has reported an imminent shortfall of up to 2.2 billion auto-disable syringes for COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization in 2022. This includes 0.3ml auto-disable syringes for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination.
There is no global stockpile of the 0.3ml specialized syringes, which differ from the 0.5ml syringes used for other types of COVID-19 vaccines and routine vaccination. The market for 0.3ml auto-disable syringes is tight and extremely competitive. As such, these are in short supply and will remain so through at least the first quarter of next year.
Already some African countries, such as Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa, have experienced delays in receiving syringes.