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Travel doors slam shut for new variant


The European Union and other major destinations have moved to block air travel from African countries following the discovery of an aggressive variant of the coronavirus.

They begin to take measures for the new variant of covid-19 in South Africa 2:37

(CNN) -

The European Union and other major destinations have moved to block air travel from African countries following the discovery of an aggressive variant of the coronavirus, echoing previous emergency responses that triggered a global travel freeze.

Italy, Austria, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom are among those imposing restrictions on flights and travelers from six African countries after the new strain, known as variant B.1.1.529, was detected in South Africa , Botswana and a visitor to Hong Kong from South Africa.

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While only dozens of cases have been identified so far, news of the variant, which has about twice as many mutations as the delta variant, is already raising fears around the world.

The cascade of closures began Thursday night when the UK announced it would temporarily suspend flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid described the variant as the "worst strain." of the history "of covid-19.

They begin to take measures for the new variant of covid-19 in South Africa 2:37

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Fear of the effect on trips through the new variant

The move prompted the South African government to issue a statement describing the UK's decision as "hasty" and expressing concern about the damage it would cause "to both tourism industries and businesses in both countries."


In the hours since, Japan has tightened border controls for travelers from the same six countries, introducing a 10-day quarantine starting at 12 a.m. on November 27.

Meanwhile, Germany plans to declare South Africa a "virus variant area" starting this Friday evening, which will mean that airlines will only be able to enter from the country to repatriate German nationals.

EU countries Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Malta have announced imminent entry bans for all travelers who have entered South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini in the past two weeks.

And there are more travel restrictions for this new variant.

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French Health Minister Olivier Véran said the "rapid" circulation of the variant in South Africa "means that it is probably contagious or highly contagious," justifying France's precautionary stance.

Singapore has chosen to bar entry to all non-residents of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, while nationals and permanent residents returning from any of these countries will be required to present a notice of stay at home. 10 days.


Malaysia has also taken similar steps.

Events have led to speculation that some of the strict travel restrictions that were imposed at the start of the pandemic could be making a comeback with this new variant.

"There is definitely a feeling right now that restrictions are coming back," said Rory Boland, travel editor for consumer magazine Which?

he tells CNN.

"Not just southern Africa, Portugal has reintroduced testing for double-vaccinated arrivals, and other countries are tightening restrictions."

"Many countries require tests in addition to vaccination. There are increasing restrictions on boosters. There is a feeling that travel is becoming more difficult again, and that in a context in which many people no longer feel safe to travel. ", he added about the panorama of the trips facing the new variant.

Experts at the World Health Organization have said that while it is still too early to assess what kind of impact the variant will have, people should start taking precautions now to reduce the chances of exposure to it.

"It's something to monitor," Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's covid-19 technical lead, said in a video posted on Twitter.

He said it would take researchers a few weeks to understand what [the new variant] means, but that in the meantime action was needed.

"Everyone who is out there must understand that the more this virus circulates, the more opportunities the virus has to change, the mutations that we will see," he said.

"Each and every observer has a role to play in reducing transmission, as well as protecting against serious illness and death.

"So get vaccinated when you can, make sure you get the full cycle of your doses, and make sure you take steps to reduce your exposure and avoid passing that virus to someone else."

Financial impact of travel restrictions due to the variant

While it may be too early to assess the impact of the virus, the news of its emergence and the flight bans were enough to scare the stock markets.

European markets opened significantly lower on Friday: the UK's FTSE 100 fell more than 3%, while Dow futures fell sharply.

Travel stocks, including EasyJet, Lufthansa and Air France airlines, were affected.

The new anxiety comes as another blow to the travel industry, which has struggled to recover after being nearly paralyzed during the first waves of the pandemic.

Now it is feared that some travel companies will not survive if the situation with the new variant worsens.

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-11-26

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