Malawi and Mozambique have been added to Northern Ireland's red list for travel in response to Omicron, a concerning new variant of Covid-19.
Angola and Zambia will also be included from 4am on November 28. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini are already on the list. All countries had been cleared from the UK’s red travel list in October.
A statement from the Department of Health said the action was taken after close liaison with other departments in the UK and Republic of Ireland. It is their intention to align Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK on PCR testing and self-isolation requirements for new arrivals, they said.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Michael McBride said the emergence of the omicron variant is a "serious and concerning" development following the extreme pressures already faced during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic to date.
"Whilst it is highly likely that there will be cases of the variant in NI at some point it is essential that preventative measures are taken to delay and/or reduce its incursion. This is a rapidly developing situation with the potential need for the addition of more countries to the Red List in the coming days," he said.
Dr McBride concluded: “It is really important that everyone takes sensible precautions - get a PCR test if you have symptoms. self-isolate when asked and wear your face-covering. Remember to ventilate rooms and please get your vaccine and boosters as soon as you can.”