It’s the nightmare before Christmas: We were expecting a grand finale to 2020, and of course, a ‘mutation’ of the coronavirus being detected in South Africa very much fits the bill. The new variant, confirmed on Friday, has now spooked a host of countries across the world, as flights from Mzansi are being banned at a rapid rate…
Flights banned as COVID-19 mutation found
A South African genomics team – led by the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) – has sequenced hundreds of samples from across the country, starting from the beginning of the pandemic in March. They have since found that a variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus, currently termed 501.V2 Variant, is now in circulation.
In total, six countries have imposed restrictions on flights from South Africa, as of 10:30 on Monday 21 December. Some have banned air travel, and two others have issued an outright ban on all travellers from our shores. Here’s the list…
Countries that have banned flights from South Africa
The latest set of restrictions has been imposed in the European hub, and France became the sixth country to take strict action directly impacting South Africa. All flights from SA are banned following the discovery of this mutation
It was confirmed on Monday morning that Germany would suspend flights from Mzansi, after a weekend of much speculation. The ban also applies to arrivals from the UK, after their health officials found another strain.
- Saudi Arabia
The Arab superpower closed all of its borders – to all nations – on Sunday evening
The Swiss government said it was suspending flights from Britain and South Africa, where a similar virus mutation has been detected, from midnight Sunday “until further notice”.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that flights from Britain, Denmark — where nine cases of the new strain have been detected — the Netherlands and South Africa would be suspended going forward.
Countries that have ‘closed their borders’
- El Salvador and Israel
Israel said it was barring entry to foreign citizens travelling from Britain, Denmark, and South Africa. A joint statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the health ministry also announced tough rules for Israelis returning home from those nations, saying that they would be confined in army-run hotels serving as quarantine centres.
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter that anyone who had been in South Africa in the past 30 days will not be allowed to enter the country. The Central American nation became the second government to go one step further than a flight ban and issued blanket restrictions on ALL ARRIVALS from South Africa.
[Additional reporting from AFP. This list is likely to increase in the coming days]