Germany has banned all flights from South Africa, except for those carrying German nationals back to Germany, in the light of the new Coronavirus variant detected by South African scientists.
The decision was announced by the country’s Minister of Health Jens Spahn, through a tweet today morning.
“Germany will, among other things, declare South Africa a virus variant area. With the entry into force tonight, airlines will only be allowed to transport Germans to Germany, and 14 days of quarantine will apply to everyone, including those who have been vaccinated,” Spahn wrote on Twitter.
He also noted that travellers now should be even more cautious when entering the country as the newly discovered variant #B11529 is worrying, and the authorities are working to proactively fight it.
The new virus has been detected by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, according to which the variant is more powerful and more transmissible. A total of 22 cases of the new virus variant have been detected up until now.
South Africa has been in Germany’s list of virus variant areas for about the first seven months of the year, and it was removed from the list only on August 2, alongside Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Since then, the list of virus variant areas has been empty, but now the country consists of South Africa. It is unknown whether other countries in the southern African region will be added to the list, but more will be revealed later today when the Robert Koch Institute updates the list or high-risk and virus variant areas.
Germany’s decision follows an announcement of the EU’s Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who on a tweet noted that the Commission would today propose a ban on flights from the southern African region.
“The EU Commission will propose, in close coordination with the Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529,” von der Leyen tweeted earlier today.
Other countries in the block have also taken similar measures, including France, which has suspended flights 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 called people who in the last 14 days were present in any of the countries mentioned above to perform a PCR test as soon as possible.
Malta has also announced it will temporarily ban travel from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and, Zimbabwe from midnight on Saturday. Other countries as Italy and the Czech Republic have also taken similar measures.