Australia and Greece will follow countries around the world who are scrambling to restrict entry from southern Africa in the wake of the new coronavirus variant which has been labelled the worst yet.

Permission to enter Greece from countries in the southern part of Africa, where the so-called Botswana strain of the coronavirus has appeared, will  also be restricted to Greek or other nationals carrying out essential travel, the Health Committee said after meeting on Friday.

Flights from nine African countries to Australia  have been suspended and anyone who has been in the past 14 days will have to self isolate.

That could include hotel quarantine, Health Minister Greg Hunt told a media conference in Canberra on Saturday afternoon.

Following an alert by the European Union, several European countries are introducing travel restrictions after the appearance of virulent strain B.1.1.529 of SARS-CoV-2 for anyone travelling from the countries of Botswana, Eswatini (former Swaziland), Lesotho, Malaui, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Travellers will need to acquire a permit by the local Greek Embassy or embassies, consulates and consular representatives standing in for Greek authorities to travel to the country. In addition, travellers will need a molecular (PCR) test done within 72 hours prior to travel, regardless of vaccination status.

When they arrive in Greece, they will be subjected to a rapid antigen test, the committee said, while they will be required to serve a 10-day quarantine in a designated hotel. At the end of the quarantine they will be retested with a molecular (PCR) test.