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Omicron: Stay at workplaces, Health Minister urges expats in Africa

Amid the global scare over the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, Health Minister Zahid Maleque today urged the expatriates, especially those living in Africa, to avoid travel and stay in their respective workplaces.

"People coming from Africa must undergo a 14-day quarantine. If 20,000 people from Africa come to the country at a time then it won't be possible to put them under institutional quarantine," he told reporters after a programme at Bangladesh College of Physicians & Surgeons in the city today.

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"If anyone comes to Bangladesh, they must show Covid-negative test report done 48 hours prior departure. Earlier, it was 72 hours," he said.

"Those failing to show Covid-negative test report must stay in an institutional quarantine for 48 hours," he added.

"The hotels which were used for institutional quarantine before have resumed their normal activities but now they have been requested to rearrange quarantine centres, said the minister.

Omicron has spread in different parts of Africa and the new variant has been detected in some European countries, including the UK.

The World Health Organisation warned on Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is "very high" based on the early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with "severe consequences".

The assessment from the UN health agency, contained in a technical paper issued to member states, amounted to WHO's strongest, most explicit warning yet about the new version that was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa, reports AP.