Morocco halts all incoming flights because of virus variant

Morocco kept its borders closed for months in 2020 because of the pandemic

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Morocco is suspending all incoming air travel from around the world starting Monday for two weeks because of the rapid spread of the new omicron variant, the Foreign Ministry announced Sunday.

The ministry tweeted that the decision was taken to “preserve the achievements realized by Morocco in the fight against the pandemic, and to protect the health of citizens.” It noted the spread of omicron in Africa and Europe.

Morocco kept its borders closed for months in 2020 because of the pandemic, fearing that its health system wouldn’t be able to manage the surges of patients seen in nearby Europe.

The kingdom in North Africa has had among Africa’s highest rates of confirmed infections but also is at the forefront of the continent’s vaccination effort, with 66% of its population having received at least one dose.

In this Jan. 22, 2021, file photo, used vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine lay empty at a vaccination center at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. The U.S. government announced on Aug. 11, 2021 it will deliver Pfizer vaccines to the Caribbean. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The flight suspension was among the most dramatic of many restrictions being imposed by nations around the world as they scramble to slow the omicron variant’s spread. Much remains to be learned about the new variant, but researchers are concerned that it may be more resistant to the protection provided by vaccines.

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