SIX African countries have been added to the north's international travel red list following the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant.
South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini are now on the red list of countries after the B.1.1.529 variant was identified in South Africa and other close regions with travel links.
Travellers who arrived from those countries recently will be contacted by the Public Health Agency and asked to self-isolate and undertake PCR tests which will be prioritised for genomic sequencing.
The north's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: "This is undoubtedly a matter of concern. We are taking the action on international travel on a precautionary basis, while we await further evidence on the spread of this variant in South Africa and understand more about it.
"The need for further measures will be kept under constant review and we will continue to liaise closely with public health colleagues in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland."