EU Tells Member States to Suspend All Travel From Southern African Countries Due to New COVID Variant

The European Union’s Commission has come forward with an official proposal to the Member States to put at halt all travel from countries in the southern African region after the new COVID-19 virus variant was detected and reported in South Africa last Thursday.

In a press statement on the new COVID-19 variant, the Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen urged the Member States to stop travel from the countries affected by the new variant in order to prevent a spread of it in Europe.

The European Commission has today proposed to the Member States to activate the ‘emergency brake’ on travel from countries in southern African and other countries affected to limit the spread of the new variant. All air travel to these countries should be suspended. They should be suspended until we have a clear understanding about the danger posed by this new variant,” the President said.

She also said that travellers from this region to the EU block should be subject to strict quarantine rules as precaution measures.

The proposal follows a warning by that the EU was planning to recommend to the member states to halt travel from countries in southern Africa.

A large share of EU and Schengen Area countries have already banned travel from the region since morning on Friday, November 26.

Germany was amongst the first EU countries to ban travel from South Africa on Friday, and later the same banned travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe as well.

France has also banned travellers from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini for a minimum period of 48 hours. At the same time, the French authorities have urged people who in the last 14 days travelled to any of these countries to perform a PCR test as soon as possible.

Other countries as Italy, Norway, the Czech Republic, and more have also already imposed a travel ban.

>> Malta Bans Travel to & From 6 Southern African Countries

The new virus, now named Omicron, has been detected by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and on Thursday, November 25, the same announced that the variant is more powerful and more transmissible.

According to the institute, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9.

Aside from South Africa, cases of the virus have also been detected in Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. If the virus is detected in more EU countries, then we will soon see more restrictions, in particular on travel, imposed throughout the block.

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