Several countries have imposed travel bans on South Africa after a new, potentially more infectious SARS-CoV-2 mutation was confirmed.

The 501.v2 variant has been identified in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and along the Garden Route. It may have properties that allow it to spread faster than other variants of the coronavirus.

A new, and also possibly more virulent variant has, similarly, been confirmed in the UK by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who announced tougher lockdown measures for London on Saturday 19 December. Following the announcement, dozens of countries have banned flights from the UK.

These countries have already closed their borders to South African travellers in response to the new variant.

Israel

On Sunday 20 December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that all commercial flights from Britain, Denmark and South Africa had been suspended. Any travellers returning to Israel, who had spent any period of time in either Britain, Denmark or South Africa in the past 30-days, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine period.

Turkey

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced a temporary ban on all flights from Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, and South Africa, citing dangers of the new Covid-19 variant. “It has been reported that the rate of transmission has increased with the mutation of the coronavirus,” said Koca.

Germany

Germany’s Federal Minister for Health Jens Spahn confirmed that flights from the UK and South Africa would be suspended from Monday 21 December. “Because of the reported coronavirus mutation, the federal government intends to restrict travel options between Germany and Great Britain and South Africa,” added government spokeswoman Martina Fietz.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has confirmed the suspension of all international flights. Passengers in transit on Monday 21 December will, however, be allowed to complete their travel plans. The suspension will last until the end of 2020 and may be extended if cases continue to rise in high-risk countries.

Switzerland

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation “suspended all air traffic connections” with South Africa and the UK on Sunday night. “Switzerland is reacting to the appearance of a new variant of the coronavirus, which, according to initial findings, is significantly more contagious than the known form,” the authority said in a statement.

These countries have banned travel from the UK, which makes bans on SA likely to follow

The UK has been hit with a swell of flight suspensions across the European Union and the world. Bans impacting South Africa, as a result of the 501.v2 variant’s presence, are likely to follow.

  • France
  • The Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Belgium
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Italy
  • India
  • Ireland (flights and ferries)
  • Austria
  • Hong Kong
  • Canada
  • El Salvador
  • Colombia
  • Morocco
  • Chile (effective Tuesday)
  • Finland
  • Argentina

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].