Britain, Germany & Italy Ban Travel From SA & Others Due to COVID Variant
South Africa's foreign ministry responded to the ban and said that Britain's decision "seems to have been rushed."
The British government on Thursday, 25 November, stated that it has banned travel from six southern African countries – Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana after South Africa detected cases that were traced back to a new COVID-19 variant, Reuters reported.
Germany and Italy announced on 26 November that they too would enforce a similar ban.
Germany is expected to declare South Africa "a virus variant area", while Italy also placed a ban on entry from the six southern African states mentioned above and Mozambique, The Guardian reported.
The European Union is also readying a similar policy.
The variant is not only more transmissible, but also has the potential to mutate even further into multiple other variants.
"The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it," according to Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary of the United Kingdom (UK).
Javid also said that while the new variant had not yet been found in Britain, British scientists were "deeply concerned."
"We will be requiring anyone that arrives from those countries from 4:00 am on Sunday to quarantine in hotels," he added.
South Africa's foreign ministry has stated that Britain's decision "seems to have been rushed" and that the B.1.1.529 variant has been detected only in small numbers, Reuters added.
COVID-19 has hit Britain fairly hard, with the country witnessing close to 150,000 deaths since the outbreak.
More than 47,000 infections were recorded on 25 November, with no signs of cases slowing down.
Fear of a winter spike has led to nearly 29 percent of the population getting a third booster dose, while more than 80 percent of people aged 12 and over have been fully vaccinated, AFP reported.
Germany's COVID-19 death toll crossed 100,000 on 25 November, Reuters reported.
(With inputs from Reuters, The Guardian and AFP.)
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