Spain extends restrictions on flights from the United Kingdom
For the president, the restrictions are “unjustified” and “unfairly discriminate” against southern African nations, in addition to the fact that “they will not be effective in preventing the spread of this variant”.
“Instead of banning travel, the rich countries of the world should support the efforts of developing economies to access and manufacture sufficient doses of vaccines for their people without delay,” the South African president stressed.
The discovery of this new variant of the coronavirus, identified as B.1.1.529 and baptized with the Greek letter Omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO), was announced last Thursday by South African scientists and health authorities, based on samples taken between November 14 and 16.
Since Friday, other countries have also confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, including Israel, Belgium (a case of a female traveler from Egypt with no apparent links to southern Africa), Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
WHO assesses the dangerousness of the new Covid variant
“The Commission will propose, in close coordination with the Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the worrying variant B.1.1.529,” wrote the president.
The Italian Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, signed the order banning the entry of citizens who have passed through South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Namibia. Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.
The British government, meanwhile, has acted “extremely quickly” to introduce a ban from Friday to flights from six African countries with an approach focused on “security” to the new variant of the coronavirus detected in South Africa, explained today the Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps.
The London Executive bans from 12 GMT air services from six African destinations, including South Africa, due to the spread of the B.1.1.529 variant, which could make current vaccines less effective.
Infectiologist refers to new variant detected in South Africa
The cascade of country restrictions began Thursday night when the United Kingdom announced it would temporarily suspend flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Singapore has opted to ban entry to all non-residents from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, while returning nationals and permanent residents from any of these countries will be required to spend 10 days at home. Malaysia has also taken similar measures.
Meanwhile, Germany plans to declare South Africa a “virus variant area” as of Friday night, which will mean that airlines will only be able to enter from the country to repatriate German nationals.
The United States will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries as of Monday. Following advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Biden administration will restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
ÓMICRON arrived in EUROPE 7 days before SOUTH AFRICA
Welcoming the news on behalf of South African Tourism , the national tourism agency’s acting director general, Themba Khumalo, said ‘it’s time to step into a brave new world’.
The destination marketing organization called the move ‘a step in the right direction’ and predicted that ‘it will significantly benefit the entire tourism value chain. As custodians of tourism, we believe that the end of restrictions is the tonic the sector needs to accelerate the rebound to pre-pandemic tourist arrival figures and profitability levels’.