The European Commission is pushing for an emergency shutdown of air traffic from South Africa over concerns about the B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant discovered there. Commission Chairwoman von der Leyen said on Twitter that the strict entry ban would be presented to member states during the day.
Italy has already announced that it will ban travelers from Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This relates to people who have been in these African countries in the past fourteen days.
‘The most important variable so far’
Tonight, an entry ban for South African travelers will go into effect in Germany. Soon, only people with a German passport will be allowed to return from South Africa. Upon arrival, they must be quarantined for fourteen days, regardless of whether the passengers have been vaccinated, according to Health Minister Spahn.
Yesterday, Israel and the United Kingdom had already imposed travel bans on travelers from a number of countries in South Africa. “This is the most significant alternative we have faced so far,” British Medical Services Deputy Chief of Staff Jenny Harris said in a statement. In her view, comprehensive research should be carried out as soon as possible on the worrying mutation, which appears to be more contagious than the dominant delta variant now.
“Hasty entry ban”
The variant has so far been identified in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong. Scientists predict that B.1.1.529 has now spread to all eight provinces of South Africa.
According to the South African foreign minister, the British travel ban was a hasty decision. The minister fears economic damage and notes that there is still much unclear about B.1.1.529.
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