The Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay is due to arrive in South Africa next week ©Getty Images

The outbreak of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 in South Africa could present the first significant obstacle to the passage of the Queen’s Baton in its 294 day journey across the Commonwealth.

The Baton is due to arrive in South Africa next week after visits to Botswana and the Island of St Helena.

Birmingham 2022 have not yet made any decision on the Relay in South Africa but Lisa Hampton, head of the Queen’s Baton Relay said: "We are closely monitoring the ever-evolving situation and will continue to work in sync with the local delivery partners as we prioritise the health and safety of each nation and territory. 

"We are working in partnership with every one of the Commonwealth Games Associations to ensure that all Queen’s Baton Relay activity is safe and adheres to national guidance in each location.

"We have robust contingency plans in place to adapt and respond to any eventuality, so whilst activities in different destinations may change in keeping with national guidance, we are confident that our mitigation measures allow all upcoming destinations to experience the Queen’s Baton Relay in a way that is both safe and enjoyable for all involved."

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) branded reaction to the new outbreak "hysterical" in a statement.

"The discovery of the new COVID variant and the announcements associated therewith have caused major havoc to sporting events in the last 24 hours," SASCOC said.

"The hysteria which has followed these announcements is something we can ill afford in our industry, particularly as it looks like our country and industry is being punished for the good work of South African scientists."

Players from the Cardiff Blues and Munster rugby clubs are both in isolation following positive tests after they arrived for matches in the United Rugby Championship, while the scheduled Indian cricket tour to South Africa remains in doubt.

Meanwhile the Queen’s Baton has just completed three days in Mauritius, the 15th of 72 nations and territories on the itinerary.

It took a journey on the new light railway transport system at Rose Hill Central Station, where it was carried by double Olympian boxer Merven Clair, who competed at Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.

Later it was carried across the water in sculling boats.

Cyclist Yannick Lincoln, a road racer who competed at both Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010 joined his Moka Rangers club mate Niels Hartmann to take the Baton on the roads at Trianon.

They arrived at Mauritius Olympic Committee headquarters in Trianon yesterday to return the Baton to Queen's Baton Relay Baton manager Richard Papie.

"At the Mauritian Olympic Committee, we are very satisfied with the development of the event on Mauritian soil," Papie said.

"This year an aspect of sustainability has been added in the organisation.

"As shown by the different ways in which the Baton has travelled around the island, we would like to thank all the stakeholders who supported the event," he continued.

In Malawi, the Relay visited Blantyre for the first time, although it had previously visited the country on three other occasions. 

The country's vice-president Saulos Chilima used the visit to deliver an uncompromising message.

"Our performance has not been encouraging compared to other African countries who have managed to improve within the years and have brought trophies to their respective countries," Chilima said as he welcomed the Baton.

"Considering that the 2022 Commonwealth Games are now drawing closer, let us get serious by practising and planning so that we at least bring some trophies home."

A cultural troupe from the Jacaranda Foundation School, an institution which helps orphans, performed to mark its arrival at Chileka International Airport. The Baton was taken through the city to be received by Blantyre Mayor Wild Ndipo.

In Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema received the Baton at the State House.

Minister of Youth, Sport and Arts Elvis Nkandu, Tokyo 2020 Paralympics 400 metres runner Monica Munga and popular musician "Wezi" also took part as the Baton journeyed to Livingstone.

Then, Tourism Minister Rhodine Sikumba and British High Commissioner Nicholas Woolley both held the Baton whilst perched in the "devil's pool" centimetres away from the Victoria Falls.

In Mozambique, the Baton was taken up the Maxaquene stairway in Maputo City where each level is painted in a different colour of the rainbow.

It also made a call at the Eusebio Campinho, a playing field named after Mozambique born football superstar Eusebio.

It was also taken along a road in honour of Maria Mutola, a dominant figure at 800m around the new millennium when she won Mozambique’s first Olympic gold and was responsible for their first Commonwealth Games in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.