UK, EU and Israel to restrict travel to Africa over new strain of COVID-19

10:41, 26 November 2021
UK, EU and Israel to restrict travel to Africa over new strain of COVID-19 Photo:

The UK will suspend the travel of its citizens to six African countries while Israel plans to impose a travel ban on South Africa amid the new COVID-19 variant outbreak.

The experts described the new variant B.1.1.529 as "the worst one we've seen so far", and it might have the potential to evade immunity.

The British government will impose travel restrictions on South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland), Zimbabwe and Namibia] on November 26.

“UKHS (United Kingdom National Health Service) is investigating a new variant. More data is needed but we're taking precautions now. From noon tomorrow six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travelers must quarantine,” the UK Health Minister Sajid Javid said.

Those residents who arrive in the UK from these countries will need to undergo hotel quarantine for 10 days. Anyone who has traveled to one of the African countries above in the past 10 days will be tested by the government medical service. So far, no case of this variant has been reported in the UK.

Israel has also added South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini to the "red list of countries" with the highest risk of COVID-19 infection. The foreigners from these countries will be banned from entering Israel while the local citizens will need to be quarantined for seven to 14 days at a hotel, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ordered an immediate assessment of the possibility of stopping flights from these countries to Israel and vice versa.

Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic have declared South Africa as a "virus variant area" and also have imposed travel restrictions.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement that she “proposes, in close coordination with the member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region.”

Meanwhile, Japan and Singapore have followed a similar path and tightened their border controls for visitors from southern Africa.

A new variant of the coronavirus was also reportedly found in Botswana and Hong Kong.