Concerns over COVID variant trigger more travel curbs on southern Africa By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Digital show boards present cancelled flights to London – Heathrow at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 26, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham/File Photo


(Reuters) -Australia and several other different international locations joined nations imposing restrictions on travel from southern Africa on Saturday after the invention of the brand new Omicron coronavirus variant sparked world concern and triggered a market sell-off.

Meanwhile, authorities in Amsterdam stated that 61 out of round 600 individuals who arrived within the Dutch metropolis on two flights from South Africa on Friday had examined optimistic for coronavirus. Health authorities have been finishing up additional exams to see if these instances concerned the brand new variant.


Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is doubtlessly more contagious than earlier variants of the illness.

It was first found in South Africa and has since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.

A minister within the German state of Hesse stated on Saturday that the variant had very most likely arrived in Germany, in a traveller getting back from South Africa. Czech well being authorities stated they have been inspecting a suspected case of the variant in an individual who frolicked in Namibia.

Financial markets plunged on Friday, particularly shares of airways and others within the travel sector, as traders anxious the variant might trigger one other surge within the pandemic and stall a worldwide restoration. Oil costs tumbled by about $10 a barrel.


The closed down 2.5%, its worst day since late October 2020, and European shares had their worst day in 17 months.

It might take weeks for scientists to completely perceive the variant’s mutations and whether or not current vaccines and coverings are efficient towards it. Omicron is the fifth variant of concern designated by the WHO.


Although epidemiologists say travel curbs could also be too late to cease Omicron from circulating globally, many international locations all over the world – together with the United States, Brazil, Canada and European Union nations – introduced travel bans or restrictions on southern Africa on Friday.


On Saturday, Australia stated it could ban non-citizens who’ve been in 9 southern African international locations from coming into and would require supervised 14-day quarantines for Australian residents and their dependents getting back from there.

Japan stated it could prolong its tightened border controls to a few more African international locations after imposing curbs on travel from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho on Friday.

Sri Lanka, Thailand and Oman additionally introduced travel curbs on southern African nations.

Omicron has emerged as many international locations in Europe are already battling a surge in COVID-19 infections, and a few have re-introduced restrictions on social exercise to attempt to cease the unfold. Austria and Slovakia have entered lockdowns.


In Britain, the principle opposition Labour Party known as on Saturday for a quicker booster vaccination programme, saying the hole between the second vaccination dose and the booster jab ought to be lower from six to 5 months.

“This new variant is a wake-up name,” stated Labour’s junior well being spokesman Alex Norris. “The pandemic shouldn’t be over. We must urgently bolster our defences to maintain the virus at bay.”

However, at the same time as many developed international locations are giving third-dose boosters, lower than 7% of individuals in low-income international locations have acquired their first COVID-19 shot, based on medical and human rights teams.

“Failure to assist vaccinate sub-Saharan Africa – nonetheless barely 4% of the inhabitants – left us all uncovered to danger of a brand new, more virulent #COVIDvariant,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva tweeted on Friday.

“News of #Omicron is an pressing reminder of why we have to do even more to vaccinate the world.”

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