UK and Israel impose restrictions over new COVID-19 strain from Africa

Nov 25, 2021

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A new strain of COVID-19 has both the U.K. and Israel imposing new restrictions on travel.

The United Kingdom is banning flights from six African nations and adding those nations to their “red list,” on fears over the new COVID-19 variant. The news was first reported by the BBC.

U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said flights from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are banned beginning Friday Nov. 26.

Javid said while scientists still needed to know more, health officials were worried about the new strain of coronavirus now being found in South Africa and a few other African nations.

The new strain is being called the B.1.1.529 variant. The Wall Street Journal reporting the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to decide wether or not to declare the new strain a so-called “variant of concern.”

The new strain reportedly has more than 30 mutations. It first showed up in Botswana, but already there are reports of dozens of cases in South Africa and there is even a case in Hong Kong. The person in Hong Kong recently returned from a trip to South Africa.

There are no cases reported in the United Kingdom.

South African officials say it appears to spread more rapidly than previous strains.

Javid saying, “And that would suggest that it may well be more transmissible and the current vaccines that we have may well be less effective.”

According to the Guardian, health officials in the U.K. will track down passengers who’ve returned from anywhere in Southern Africa and they will be offered tests to make sure they haven’t brought the new strain. U.K. officials are also reportedly further measures including considering requiring all incoming passengers to submit to PCR tests on arrival.

Israel has also banned arrivals from the same six African nations plus Mozambique, and is banning its citizens from visiting those same countries.

There’s been no comment so far from the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.

Featured image by by Joseph Okpako/Getty Images.

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