More and more countries, including the United Kingdom and Singapore, have imposed restrictions on travelers from southern Africa.
More and more countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel, and Singapore, have imposed travel restrictions after the discovery of the new coronavirus. New coronavirus variants In South Africa.
Scientists worry that this new strain may be more resistant to vaccines and easier to spread.
European and Asian countries tightened travel requirements on Friday, after a new variant of the coronavirus was identified as B.1.1.529. Found in South Africa.
The Israeli Ministry of Health said on Friday that the country’s first case of a variant of the new coronavirus has been found in a passenger returning from Malawi. The passenger and two other suspected cases have been quarantined. It said that all three people were vaccinated, but it is currently investigating their exact vaccination status.
At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against imposing new travel restrictions.
Spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva on Friday: “WHO recommends that countries continue to use risk-based scientific methods when implementing travel measures… It is warning against implementing travel measures.”
The WHO stated that it will take several weeks to determine the exact transmission capacity of the new variant.
A WHO spokesperson said: “Researchers are working to learn more about these mutations and their potential significance for the infectivity or toxicity of this mutation.” WHO experts began a virtual meeting to determine whether B .1.1.529 Variant classified as interest or concern.
BioNTech evaluates vaccines against new strains
BioNTech said on Friday that it is studying the protective effect of the coronavirus vaccine developed in cooperation with Pfizer on the new variant.
“We expect more data from laboratory testing within two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information on whether B.1.1.529 is likely to be an escape variant, and if the variant spreads globally, It may be necessary to adjust our vaccines,” said a BioNTech spokesperson.
South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana have also confirmed about 50 confirmed cases. Confirmed cases in Botswana and Hong Kong were found among travelers from South Africa.
The UK announced that it will ban flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries from noon on Friday (12:00 GMT), and require anyone who has recently arrived from these countries to be tested for coronavirus and be quarantined.
Al Jazeera’s Fahmeda Miller reported in Johannesburg that “Southern African countries depend on tourism and trade” and the new restrictions dashed hopes before the holidays.
South Africa was recently removed from the British red list. Miller said: “The South African government will definitely be worried. They say the ban is hasty.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pretoria stated that South Africa will talk to the British authorities to try to get them to reconsider their ban. Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in a statement: “Our top priority is that this decision will cause damage to the tourism industry and businesses of both countries.”
The 27-member EU group also stated that it will consider new restrictions when responding to the fourth peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
European Commission President Ursula von der Lein said in a statement that she “proposed close coordination with member states to activate the emergency brake to prevent air travel from southern Africa.”
The Italian Ministry of Health announced measures to prohibit anyone who has been to seven southern African countries (South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini) from entering Italy in the past 14 days.
The Netherlands is planning to take similar measures.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn stated that airlines returning from South Africa can only send German citizens home. Passengers need to be quarantined for 14 days regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
Germany has seen new record The number of daily cases in the last few days, and on Thursday surpassed the 100,000 deaths of COVID-19.