Coronavirus variant fear sparks Africa travel curbs

Image source, PA Media

Due to the possibility of a new coronavirus, travelers from many southern African countries who arrive in England will need to be quarantined.

Sajid Javid, UK Health Secretary, stated that six additional countries will be added to red list starting Friday at 12:00 GMT. Flights are temporarily suspended.

B.1.1.529 was described by one expert as the “worst variant we have seen” and it is possible to avoid immunity.

In the UK, no confirmed cases have been reported.

There have so far been only 59 confirmed cases in South Africa, Hong Kong, and Botswana.

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All South Africa and Namibia flights, Botswana, Lesotho, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana are suspended.

Javid indicated that scientists are concerned about the “deeply concerning” new variant. However, more needs to be done.

He said that the variant had a substantial number of mutations and “maybe twice the amount of mutations we saw in the Delta variant”.

He stated, “And this would suggest it may be more transmissible. The current vaccines may be less efficacious.”

He stated that adding six more countries to the red-list was all about being cautious, taking action, and protecting. as best we can, our borders”.

Non-UK residents and Irish citizens will no longer be allowed to enter England after Friday at 12:00.

Anyone arriving in the UK or Ireland from these countries after Sunday 04:00 will be required to quarantine at a hotel. Those who return before then are asked to isolate themselves.

People who are returning within the last 10 working days will be asked by the UK Health Security Agency to complete a PCR test.

The ban on flying will continue until the hotel quarantine is in operation.

This was, according to one scientist, the most dangerous variant that they had ever seen. If you look closely at it printed out it is easy to understand why.

This is the most mutated form and it is now completely different from the one that was discovered in Wuhan (China).

This means that vaccines made from the original might not prove as effective.

Some of these mutations have been shown to enhance the spread of coronaviruses.

However, there are many variations that look bad but don’t work.

The virus could be already in all provinces of South Africa, and there are signs that it is being spread.

However, the important questions of how it escapes vaccines, how severe it is, and how fast it spreads faster than Delta are not yet answered.

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Andrew Harding, BBC Africa correspondent, said that scientists in South Africa are trying to figure out the mutations. However they knew one thing: it is far more transmissible.

He stated that there was disappointment at being added to the Red List by countries other than the United States. Science experts said they needed greater support for the discovery of the variant and more rewards.

South African officials will be able to meet experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), on Friday, in order to evaluate the current situation.

A new variant of this variant was identified by the UKHSA. It is highly mutated, and confirmed cases tend to be concentrated in one South Africa province.

Scientists estimate that the variant is composed of 50 mutations, with more than 30 occurring on spike protein. Spike protein is the vaccine target. It’s the key virus uses to access our bodies cells.

South Africa’s experts say the variant is very different to other known strains. They also worry that it may be easier to spread and could even bypass parts of your immune system.

Professor Ravi Gupta from the University of Cambridge said that the new variant could have higher infectivity and escape immunity.

Professor Neil Ferguson, Imperial College London, said that it was worrying the new variant seemed to be driving a “rapid increase in South Africa’s case numbers” and suggested that the decision to limit travel was prudent.

However, he stated that the possibility of the variant being more resistant or transmissible to vaccines was unknown and it is too early to determine the level of risk.

Currently, between 500-700 people travel to the UK each day from South Africa. However, this number is likely to rise as the holiday season began.

British Airways stated that it is in contact with affected customers. Virgin Atlantic claimed it will be reviewing its South Africa schedule over the next week. Flights from Johannesburg to Heathrow were cancelled on Friday at 12:00 and Sunday at 04:00.

The UK removed all the red-listed countries in October.

Every UK country has its own policy, but all have followed the same rules in past announcements.

Scotland will follow the UK’s lead and require anyone from six other countries to self-isolate, take two PCR test, and hotel quarantine in effect from Saturday at 04:00 GMT.

People who have been fully vaccinated and are travelling to the UK do not require a Covid before they depart. However, you will need to complete a passenger locator form as well as a lateral flow testing two days later.

Persons over 18 who have not been fully vaccinated must be self-isolated at home for 10 day and complete a Covid Test in the 3 days preceding travel and on their return.

You are currently in South Africa, and you have plans to travel to England. Send us an email with your concerns [email protected].

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