UK returns six southern African countries to their red carpet restriction list, after a major overhaul of coronavirus mutations caused panic among health officials around the world.
Travelers coming from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland will be forced to remain in solitary confinement for 10 days at a government venue from Friday afternoon, officials said.
Direct flights from six countries should also be temporarily banned until volunteer landing and hotels are ready to receive passengers.
The change in the law follows concerns that scientists are increasingly concerned about the potential for the B.1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 vaccine-evasive virus and it is spreading faster than the Delta genus. The crisis, first identified in Botswana, is believed to have been behind Covid’s lawsuits in South Africa last week.
Sajid Javid, the UK’s secretary for health and social care, said the UK Health Security Agency was “looking for something new. More is needed but we are taking action now.”
He added in a tweet that from tomorrow afternoon, “six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travelers should be isolated”.
The World Health Organization is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the new species, which is expected to show the problem to be “a different kind of interest”. Earlier Thursday, Israel banned travelers from South Africa and neighboring countries, Haaretz said.
The variants have been reported to be the most diverse of coronaviruses that researchers have encountered. More unconfirmed data appear to be spreading faster than previously thought in South Africa, where tests that gave positive results jumped in recent weeks.
About 59 cases of this type, mainly from South Africa, were followed up. But local health officials told the Financial Times newspaper that preliminary PCR results show that 90 percent of the 1,100 new people in the South African province of Gauteng on Wednesday, including Johannesburg, were caused by the new differences.
Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, told the Financial Times he was “concerned” about the crisis.
De Oliveira said there are trends in the new developments that have been associated with widespread spread. “And the question that needs to be answered is what are the side effects of the vaccine,” he added.
Soumya Swaminathan, a WHO senior scientist, said the new species had “a disturbing change in spike protein”. “Preliminary analysis indicates that this change has many changes that are needed and will continue to be studied,” the WHO said in a statement.
Professor Christina Pagel, a member of the Independent Sage science advisory team, welcomed the UK government’s proposal. “We are ahead [this variant] in the UK, “he said.” Taking action here is our best chance of avoiding exports as we know more about this. “
Ewan Birney, deputy director-general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, called for international assistance in South Africa in the fight against the new species. “International groups need to get drugs and vaccines in South Africa soon,” Birney said.
South Africa and other countries in the region have just released the old UK red list in October. Travel restrictions were first introduced in the region earlier this year on Beta models, which were replaced by Delta.
The new red flag should dampen South Africa’s hopes of saving this summer’s summer, which is crucial for the economy. Business leaders and officials in South Africa have long felt that they were being punished because the country had a high level of genetic testing.
Additional reports by Sebastian Payne and Philip Georgiadis
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