South Africa’s travel ban woes continue as various other countries hop on the bandwagon with travel restrictions to and from the country. This comes after an announcement on Thursday, November 25, that a new COVID-19 variant had been detected with the United Kingdom placing SA back on its Red List a few hours later amid fears of a spike in cases.
Unfortunately, a number of countries have since followed suit. The Philippines have suspended incoming flights from South Africa and other countries, including Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique which will be in place until December 15, as per News24.
Fear amongst governments in Europe continues to grow as numbers climb and hospital beds fill up, with many nations bolstering their defences by urging citizens to vaccinate and get their booster shots. Following the announcement of the new variant, Spain announced that it too would be suspended international flights from South Africa and Botswana from Tuesday, while Denmark has indicated that non-essential travel to and from South Africa will be banned.
According to France24, France appears to be taking its own precautions as it has also suspended flights arriving from the southern African region for 48 hours until EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen proposes an official air halt amid the rising concern.
However, efforts appear to be a little too late as Belgium has just confirmed its first case of the heavily mutated variant, as per CNBC. According to Marc Van Ranst, a researcher at the Rega Institute for Medical Research, a sample conformed as the novel B.1.1.529 variant was detected in a traveller who returned from Egypt on November 11.
In Belgium, one sample was confirmed as the novel B.1.1.529 variant (in a returning traveller from Egypt (11/11); first symptoms on 22/11).
— Marc Van Ranst (@vanranstmarc) November 26, 2021