The United Kingdom has temporarily suspended flights from six African countries starting Friday afternoon. These countries have also been added to the UK travel redlist.
This follows the detection of a new coronavirus variant in Botswana, which scientists say has spread to South Africa. British scientists have stated that the new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, is the worst they’ve seen so far.
The UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that from 12:00 GMT on Friday six countries will be added to the nation’s redlist with a temporary ban on flights.
The six African countries on the UK travel redlist are, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho plus and Eswatini. The UK will also be placing visitors from several southern African countries under quarantine in a bid to control the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.
So far they have been 59 cases of the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana.
Javid said scientists are “deeply concerned” about the new variant and will need to study more about it, stating that this new variant spreads faster than the Delta variant. He also added that current COVID-19 vaccines may not work for it.
Here in Africa, half of the people working in tourism lost their jobs. A recent report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development projects a $170-253 billion from Africa’s tourism industry, and $1.7-$2.4 trillion from the global tourism industry by the end of 2021. We can only hope that the suspension on flights from the continent does not become a trend.