Matt Atlas

New COVID Variant Prompts Global Travel Restrictions

Several countries in Asia and Europe today restricted entry to their territory due to a new coronavirus variant, which was announced by the Republic of South Africa (South Africa) on Thursday. The version marked B.1.1.529 carries an extraordinary number of mutations, and could thus be more aggressive than previous variants. In Belgium, meanwhile, the first case of this mutation in Europe has been confirmed. Israel also announced the new variant today. Apart from South Africa, only Botswana and Hong Kong have been detected to date. The World Health Organization has included the new option B.1.1.529 as worrying. The WHO announced this after consultation with experts and assigned it the Greek letter omikron, previously the letter “n” appeared in the media.

Flights from South Africa and several other countries in southern Africa were completely suspended by the Netherlands and France. Italy has banned people who have been to South Africa and six other African countries for the past 14 days from entering Italian territory. Croatia has announced that it will tighten rules for passengers from several South African countries. It will either ban travel completely or order a 14-day quarantine with mandatory testing for newcomers from selected countries. Britain suspended flights from South Africa and some neighboring countries on Thursday.

From Saturday, third-country nationals who have spent more than 12 hours in eight African countries in the last 14 days – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia – will not be able to enter the Czech Republic. All Czechs returning from these countries will have to go into isolation for at least ten days after their return. They will have to submit a negative PCR test before entering the Czech Republic. Upon their return, they must undergo a test within 24 hours and others no earlier than the 10th, and no later than the 14th day after their return.

With effect from Saturday, Germany will consider the Republic of South Africa to be a coronavirus mutation area, making it impossible to travel between Germany and the affected areas. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s head of office, Helge Braun, soon expects a ban on flights to South Africa. The European Commission (EC) is also proposing such a move, as its boss Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter today.

Singapore then decided not to allow people who had recently visited South Africa and five other countries to enter the country due to a new coronavirus mutation. Japan will tighten border controls on passengers from South Africa and five other African countries.

Due to a new variant of coronavirus, Israel has issued a travel ban that applies to most African countries, with the exception of those in the north of the continent. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said his country is on the verge of declaring a state of emergency. The Israeli Ministry of Health has announced that it has uncovered the first case of a new mutation in Israel. Infection with this variant was demonstrated in an Israeli who returned from Malawi. The other two people suspected of being infected with this variant are quarantined.

Europe also has the first confirmed case of coronavirus infection B.1.1.529. Today she was found in Belgium , at a patient at a teaching hospital in Leuven. The infected is a young woman who recently visited Egypt and Turkey. According to the media, it seems to have no connection to the Republic of South Africa, which records a more significant spread of a potentially dangerous variant.

Germany reported the highest increase in the number of infected since the beginning of the pandemic. There were 76,414 infected people in the past day. German Health Minister Jens Spahn called for the cancellation of all major events, and Chancellor Merkel called for a reduction in contacts due to the rapid spread of the virus. The German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has announced that it will re-elect its president at a digital convention on January 22 due to the plague.

In Slovakia, the daily increase in new infections fell below 10,000; on Thursday, laboratories in this five-million-strong country found 9,331 new infections with a lower number of completed tests. Slovak Minister of Finance Igor Matovič proposed that the state motivate seniors to be vaccinated against covid-19 with vouchers worth 500 euros (CZK 12,750) for the use of various services.

In Russia, there were 34,690 coronavirus infections and 1,235 covid-19 deaths in the past day. The overall trend of recent days is slightly declining.

Several police officers were injured in the night riots on the French island of Martinique, where people are protesting against coronavirus restrictions. Journalists from several media outlets also became the target of attacks and shootings. Police detained ten people in connection with the violence.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that in Africa, only 27 percent of health workers in Africa have completed the 19-covid vaccination.