South Africa Says UK Travel Ban Was Rushed

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South Africa on Friday said the UK’s move to ban flights from the Southern parts of Africa was “rushed” and warned it would be damaging to the tourism industries and businesses of all affected countries.

Hours after scientists in South Africa on Thursday announced they had detected a new Covid-19 variant – B.1.1.529, the UK reimposed a travel ban on SA and five other African countries.

Only 22 cases of the new variant have been detected in South Africa.

Announcing the ban late on Thursday, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned that the new variant of Covid-19 – B.1.1.529 – may be “more transmissible” than the Delta strain.

He also said that “the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective.”

Responding to the move on Friday, the South Africa government said it “noted the announcement by the United Kingdom (UK) to temporarily ban all flights from the Southern parts of Africa, including South Africa from entering the UK due to the detection of a new coronavirus variant B.1.1.529”.

South Africa said while it respects the right of all countries to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect their citizens, the UK’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering the UK “seems to have been rushed as even the World Health Organization is yet to advise on the next steps”.

SA International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said: “Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries.

“South Africa will engage the UK government with the view to persuade them to reconsider this decision.”

The other countries that were back on the UK Red List include Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe.

Flights from these countries will be suspended from 12 pm on Friday, 26 November 2021.