Several Countries Ban Flights from SA after Emergence of New COVID-19 Super Variant

A number of countries have banned flights from South Africa following the emergence of a new super variant of the Coronavirus.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Thursday confirmed that 22 cases of the new variant – called B.1.1.529 had also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was of “serious concern” and behind an “exponential” increase in reported cases, making it “a major threat”.

Alarmed by the variant, the UK placed South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini on a “red list” from Friday.

The European Union’s executive also said it wants to stop air travel from southern Africa to counter the spread of a new COVID-19 variant.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement that she “proposes, in close coordination with the member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region.”

Germany, Italy, Singapore, Japan and Israel have also banned flights from South Africa.

Phaahla has once again called on South Africans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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