By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) - Spain on Wednesday extended entry limitations from nine Southern African countries until Dec. 29 to contain a surge of the new omicron variant of coronavirus.
Restrictions against travelers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and newly added Malawi and Zambia are maintained, the country’s Official Gazette said.
Passengers from these countries "will be subject to denial of entry, for reasons of public order or public health," it said.
They are also required to present a negative COVID-19 test result, regardless of vaccination status or having recovered from the disease.
The restrictions, which began on Nov. 30 for seven countries, were set to end at midnight.
Spain has reported 36 cases of the new strain so far, with 19 of them having no link to international travel to countries of high risk.
South African scientists announced on Nov. 24 the discovery of the variant, which has several mutations.
According to the World Health Organization, the new variant, which it had declared a "variant of concern," has been detected in 77 countries so far and is spreading faster than any previous variant.
Meanwhile, Spain began vaccinations for children aged between 5 and 11.
It has confirmed more than 5.3 million coronavirus cases and over 88,500 related deaths, while nearly 37.75 million people, which equals 80% of the population, are fully vaccinated.