November 30, 2021

More countries close borders to South Africa over new Covid variant fears

Japan’s authorities introduced on Friday (26 November) that it will tighten border controls for guests from South Africa and 5 different African countries after the invention of a new variant of Covid-19, Reuters stories.

The announcement comes hours after the UK authorities positioned South Africa and 5 different countries onto its much-maligned journey ‘red list’ following the emergence of the new variant in Southern Africa.

UK well being Secretary Sajid Javid mentioned that from midday on Friday (12h00 GMT, 26 November), flights to and from the countries might be quickly banned. Any UK nationals arriving from the desired countries may have to quarantine.

Different countries are seemingly to observe the UK’s instance because the variant, designated as B.1.1.529 by the WHO, has sparked considerations about its transmissibility, severity and potential vaccine resistance.

Singapore and Israel have already introduced new journey restrictions, whereas India has issued an advisory to all states to rigorously check and display worldwide travellers from South Africa and different “at-risk” countries amidst considerations over the variant.

The European Union may also suggest a halt on air journey from southern Africa, Bloomberg reported.

Australia and New Zealand, in the meantime, have adopted a ‘wait and see’ strategy, with officers nonetheless assessing the risk posed by the variant.

Scientists are nonetheless unclear on how efficient current vaccines might be in opposition to the new variant, which shows mutations which may resist neutralization.

The variant shares similarities with the Lambda and Beta variants, that are related to an innate evasion of immunity, mentioned Richard Lessells, an infectious ailments specialist on the KwaZulu-Natal Analysis and Innovation Sequencing Platform.

“All these things are what give us some concern that this variant might have not just enhanced transmissibility, so spread more efficiently, but might also be able to get around parts of the immune system and the protection we have in our immune system,” Lessells mentioned.

A mapping instrument developed by journey web site Skyscanner reveals that as of 26 November, South Africa has 78 ‘major restrictions’ from different countries in place. That is up from round 60 main restrictions earlier than the third Covid wave hit.

These countries have suspended journey, could also be closed to entry, or entry could solely be potential if you’re a citizen/meet strict entrance necessities.

By comparability, there are at present 27 reasonable restrictions for South Africa, the place journey is feasible, however provided that travellers meet sure entry necessities, together with taking Covid-19 exams.

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