Five Countries Ban Flights from South Africa over Covid-19 Variant
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Travelers queue at a South African Airways information counter at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 15, 2019.
Michele Spatari | AFP
Xinhua News Agency
At least five countries have suspended flights from South Africa after a coronavirus variant was recently discovered in the country.
Germany, Turkey, Israel, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia are among the countries that have announced the banning of such flights to prevent the spread of a variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus currently termed 501.V2 Variant. The ban was coming into effect on Monday in most of these countries.
Germany was one of the first nations to announce the ban.
"Because of the reported coronavirus mutation, the federal government intends to restrict travel options between Germany and Great Britain and South Africa," said Government Spokesperson Martina Fietz.
Israel also banned the flights on Sunday, saying that its citizens returning from South Africa would be required to undergo a 30-day mandatory quarantine on their return.
The new variant was discovered in the Eastern Cape and also affects Kwazulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said his department has been observing a huge number of young people with no illness testing positive lately.
"The evidence that has been collated, therefore, strongly suggests that the current second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant," he said.
A number of countries have also added Britain in their list of banned flights following the discovery of a COVID-19 variant there.