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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Egypt and Jordan move to red, GCC to yellow: updates to traffic system travel list


Unvaccinated travellers arriving from red and yellow listed countries must quarantine at a hotel upon landing in Qatar. 

Qatar’s ministry of health has announced new updates to its lists of countries in its newly launched traffic system to help contain the spread of the virus, authorities revealed.

As part of the new updates, Egypt and Jordan have been moved to the “red list” due to an increase of cases and the alarming spread of the new Delta variant in both counties, joining Afghanistan, Cambodia, Georgia and Brazil.

Unvaccinated citizens and residents coming from countries in the red list – including pregnant women, lactating mothers and people aged 75 and above – must quarantine at a hotel for an extended period of 10 days.

Currently, around 153 countries are included in Qatar’s red list.

Read also: Confused about Qatar’s travel rules? This interactive guide eases your journey

Meanwhile, all Gulf countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Oman – are now under the ‘yellow’ list, meaning unvaccinated citizens and residents coming from these countries must quarantine at a hotel for seven days.

China, Algeria, France, and Japan are also among 33 countries set under the ‘yellow’ list.

At present, 21 countries – mostly European – are included in the green list. Unvaccinated citizens and residents coming from nations in the green list – including pregnant women, lactating mothers and people aged 75 and above – can quarantine at home for five days.

However, quarantine rules differ for six Asian countries, including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines, due to the recent spread of the ‘highly aggressive’ Covid-19 variant in South East Asia.

The Delta variant, which was first found in India, has been detected in more than 90 countries, including Qatar.

As per the new rules imposed in late July, fully Covid-19 vaccinated travellers (who have received their vaccination in Qatar) from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines coming to the Gulf state must now quarantine for two days at a hotel until a negative PCR swab tests sees them fit to leave the facility on the second day.

All other travellers from these countries are subject to a hotel quarantine of 10 days upon arriving in Qatar.

Qatar opens borders after a long wait

In July, Qatar reinstated family and visitor visas following a dip in daily cases.

The move was part of updates to the travel policy by Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health [MOPH] which outlined details for quarantine regulations for travellers based on countries they are coming from, all of which fall under three categories: green, yellow and red.

Per the latest policies, fully vaccinated citizens and residents [QID holder] are exempted from quarantining, only if 14 days have passed since the completion of their required Covid-19 doses. These must be one of the vaccines approved by Qatar’s MOPH. This does not apply to those coming from the listed Asian countries.

The same exemption applies to citizens and residents who have recovered from a previous Covid-19 infection in Qatar over the past 12 months, only if they were asymptomatic and their PCR result is negative.

Read also: Metrash2 opens up for family resident visa applications from India, Pakistan

Children aged 0-17 will follow the same policies as their parents, while unvaccinated minors aged 0-17 are subject to home quarantine for seven days, according to an updated amendment from the MOPH.

Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers are required to present a negative PCR test that is valid within 72 hours prior to their arrival from approved health centres from the countries they are coming from.

Covid’s ‘deadliest variant’ reaches Qatar

The updates come as health officials confirmed the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is more contagious than earlier strains and causes more severe symptoms, has been detected in Qatar.

“The Delta variant first appeared (in the world) last February, but it arrived in Qatar four months later,” confirmed Hamad General Hospital Medical Director Dr Yousef Al Maslamani in an interview with Qatar TV.

Highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant detected in Qatar

Dr. Al Maslamani said that proactive health and safety measures have aided in delaying the arrival of the variant in Qatar, noting a rapidly moving vaccination campaign will also help strengthen the community’s immunity.

“This gave us an opportunity to increase vaccination rates and enhance immunity in society – for example almost 85 percent of people aged over 12 received at least one dose of the vaccine. And this is a large number, which contributed to providing excellent protection,” he added.

Increase in daily numbers

Recently, Qatar has seen a slight increase in daily reported cases of Covid-19, pushing authorities to extend phase 3 of the plan to lift Covid-19 restrictions.

Read also: New variants more severe but vaccines ‘provide way out’ of pandemic: Al Khal

“In recent days, the number of people infected with the virus has increased, and almost all criteria are in the second and third stage. So, scientifically, it is illogical to move to another stage and open activities more at a time when the numbers are constantly increasing,” Dr Al Maslmani added.

The increase in infection numbers has been due to travel and social behaviours during Eid Al-Adha, he told Qatar TV. The number of daily infections was stable until the eighth day after the Islamic holiday. After that, infection numbers began to increase.

He stressed the need for those returning from travel to adhere to precautionary and quarantine measures, especially groups that need to home quarantine, in order to flatten the curve.

“Does the fourth stage mean the lifting of restrictions completely? We cannot completely lift the restrictions because scientifically, if you move from a stage with restrictions to the stage of complete conquest, the epidemic will return significantly,” said the medical director.

There are currently 1,980 active cases in Qatar, according to MoPH figures.

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