The United Kingdom (UK) has acted swiftly following the news of a new COVID-19 variant, which was confirmed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
“B.1.1.529 has been detected in South Africa [and 22] positive cases of variant B.1.1.529 have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing collaborations between the NICD and private laboratories,” the NICD expressed.
Since then, the UK has enforced a travel ban which will come into effect from midday on Friday, November 26. British Airways flights to and from South Africa are also being cancelled merely hours after it was announced that South African travellers would be denied entry into the country.
This travel ban will also affect other countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
“From midday on Friday November 26, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.
“UK and Irish residents arriving between midday Friday November 26 and 4am Sunday November 28 from these six countries will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days. They must take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 post-arrival. These can be NHS PCR tests and passengers should take them even if they have already booked or taken their lateral flow test,” the statement read.
The UK only removed South Africa from its red list in October, and even though no cases have been identified in the British country, precautionary measures are being taken.