Saudi Arabia to loosen travel restrictions following discovery of omicron variant

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Saudi Arabia announced Saturday that it will loosen its pandemic travel restrictions a day after putting a pause on incoming flights from seven African nations in response to the detection of a new coronavirus variant.

Saudi Arabia's interior ministry said international travelers from all countries will be allowed into the country as long as they have one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Reuters reported. Travelers will still have to quarantine for three days, however.

The easing of the restrictions will go into effect next Saturday.

A number of other countries, including the U.S., also added travel restrictions on Friday for countries in southern Africa due to the new variant. The United Kingdom announced further restrictions on Saturday after detecting two cases of the variant within its borders.

The omicron variant was first detected in South Africa and has spread to several other countries, including Italy, Germany and Israel.

Scientists are working to determine whether the new variant can resist the vaccine or spread from person to person more easily as a result of the 30 new mutations it contains.

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