The UK plans to return six countries in southern Africa to the Red List of travel bans after a clear surge in cases where a highly mutated coronavirus variant has alerted global health authorities.
Travelers returning from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesoto and Eswatini will be forced to quarantine at government facilities for 10 days starting Friday noon, government officials said.
Direct flights from southern African countries have been temporarily banned due to the lack of infrastructure to support hotel quarantine, according to travel industry executives. The government is aiming to have a dedicated arrival terminal and hotel ready to accept Red List passengers from Monday, he said.
The Red List, which once included more than 50 countries, was suspended on November 1.
Change the rule is B. Following the growing concern of scientists about the ability of the 1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant to evade vaccines and infect faster than the Delta variant. The first strain identified in Botswana is believed to be behind the resurgence of Covid cases in South Africa over the past week.
South Africa and the rest of the region only left the UK’s previous Red List in October. Travel restrictions were first imposed on the region earlier this year against the beta version replaced by Delta.
The new Red List could undermine South Africa’s hopes of saving the economy’s essential summer tourism season. South African business leaders and officials have long felt punished for countries with relatively advanced genomic surveillance capabilities.
UK Health Minister Sajid Javid said the UK Health and Security Agency is “investigating new variants.” We need more data, but we are currently taking precautions. “
“Six African countries have been added to the Red List, flights have been temporarily banned, and British travelers must be quarantined,” he said in a tweet from noon tomorrow.
The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the new variants first identified on Tuesday. This variant is expected to be designated as the “subspecies of interest”. Earlier Thursday, Israel banned travelers from South Africa and neighboring countries, Haaretz reported.
This variant has been described as the most worrisome coronavirus variant that researchers have encountered. Unconfirmed data seems to indicate that it is spreading faster in South Africa than previously thought. In South Africa, the proportion of tests that give positive results has increased significantly in the last few weeks.
At least 59 mutants, primarily of South African origin, have been genomically sequenced. However, local health officials told the Financial Times that early PCR results showed that 90% of 1,100 new cases in the Gauteng region of South Africa on Wednesday, including Johannesburg, were caused by the new mutation. Told.
Triode Oliveira, director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, told the Financial Times that he was “worried” about the tension.
De Oliveira stated that the new variant has properties that were previously associated with high transfer rates. “And the important question to be answered is exactly what the effect on the vaccine is,” he added.
Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist, said the new mutant “has many worrisome mutations in pesplomers.” “Early analysis has shown that this variant needs further research and that there are many mutations that need to be studied in the future,” WHO said in a statement.
Professor Christina Pagel, a member of the Independent Sage Group of Scientific Advisors, welcomed the decision of the British Government.
“We are currently ahead [this variant] In the UK, “she said. “Acting now is our best chance to prevent imports while we know more about it.”
Ewan Birney, Deputy Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, called for international support for South Africa to fight new strains. “The international community should deliver medicines and vaccines to South Africa as soon as possible,” Bernie said.
South Africa was last on the UK Travel Red List after a surge earlier this year in beta cases that showed some resistance to the vaccine.
Additional Report by Sebastian Payne and Philip Georgiadis
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