EU, US to halt air travel to and from southern Africa

European Union (EU) member states have agreed to briefly droop travel from southern Africa after the detection of the brand new Covid variant.

This night, the WHO categorised the brand new Covid pressure as a "variant of concern".

A committee of well being specialists from the bloc's 27 states agreed upon the necessity to activate the "emergency break" and impose non permanent restrictions on all travel into the EU from southern Africa.

The information was confirmed on Twitter by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Meanwhile, the United States stated it can limit entry to travellers from eight southern African international locations over issues concerning the new variant, President Joe Biden stated at the moment.

The coverage doesn’t ban flights or apply to US residents and everlasting residents, a White House official stated.

The restrictions can be efficient from Monday and apply to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

Canada banned arrivals from seven African international locations – Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – over issues concerning the unfold of the brand new Covid pressure.

Earlier, the European Commission really helpful that EU international locations droop travel from southern Africa in response to the brand new variant.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen stated the transfer would assist "limit the spread" of the variant, recommending all air travel to affected international locations be suspended till extra is thought concerning the new pressure.

A committee of well being specialists from all 27 EU states "agreed on the need to activate the emergency break and impose temporary restriction on all travel into EU from southern Africa", the Slovenian presidency of the EU stated on Twitter.

Restrictions will apply to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer stated on Twitter.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin spoke to EU chief Ursula von der Leyen this morning to focus on the Europe-wide response to the brand new Covid variant.

The WHO's Special Envoy on Covid-19 stated it’s acceptable to be involved concerning the new variant.

"My own view is that really it is appropriate to be concerned about this," Dr David Nabarro instructed the BBC.

"I'll tell you why: The virus looks like it will have greater capacity to evade the defences that we've all built up as a result of the vaccinations we've received since the beginning of this year."

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In Britain, flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe had been suspended from noon at the moment and all six international locations have been added to the UK purple listing.

Passengers – together with UK and Irish residents – arriving into Britain from 4am Sunday can be required to ebook and pay for a government-approved lodge and quarantine for 10 days. They should additionally take checks on day two and day eight.

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid up to date MPs on the variant and stated it "is highly likely that it has now spread to other countries".

He added: "We are involved that this new variant could pose substantial danger to public well being. The variant has an uncommon massive variety of mutations.

"Yesterday the UK Health Security Agency classified B.1.1.529 as a new variant under investigation and the very technical group has designated it as a variant under investigation with very high priority."

Mr Javid stated early indications present the present vaccines "may be less effective against it".

South Africa says travel bans 'draconian, unjustified'

South Africa's well being ministry has attacked Europe's rush to impose travel bans to gradual the unfold of a brand new Covid variant as "draconian," unscientific and opposite to WHO recommendation.

"We believe that some of the reactions have been unjustified," Health Minister Joe Phaahla instructed a information convention, accusing some leaders whom he didn’t title of looking for a "scapegoat."

However, the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged in opposition to travel curbs at this stage.

The company cautioned that it may take a number of weeks to discover out whether or not the newly-discovered mutations made the virus extra virulent or transmissible.

Mr Phaala stated that bans had been "a incorrect method – it's misdirected and goes in opposition to the norms and recommendation by the WHO.

"We feel some of the leadership of countries are finding scapegoats to deal with what is a worldwide problem," he added.

Additional reporting PA

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