Countries around the world have moved quickly to restrict travel to a number of southern African nations after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant, which has been named Omicron.
Curbs have been placed on travel to and from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and in some cases Malawi.
The Covid-19 mutation as been designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation, which said: “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other [variants of concern]."
UK adds four more countries to red list
The UK added Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia from 4am on Sunday, joining South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
"We're not going to stop people travelling, but we will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday.
Dutch health authorities said that 61 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for Covid-19, and they were conducting further testing early on Saturday to see if any of the infections are with the recently discovered Omicron variant.
The Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday.
Markets plunged on Friday, with stocks of airlines and others in the travel sector hit particularly hard.
Investors said they were worried the variant could cause another surge in the pandemic and stall a global recovery. Oil prices tumbled by about $10 a barrel.
Countries restricting travel to Africa
More Omicron coverage
- WHO labels B.1.1.529 Omicron strain as 'variant of concern'
- UAE suspends entry of travellers from 7 southern African nations
- What is known about the B.1.1.529 'Omicron' Covid-19 variant from South Africa?