Johannesburg, Berlin Germany will declare South Africa a virus variant area because of the newly emerging coronavirus variant B.1.1.529. The regulation will come into force tonight, airlines will then only be allowed to transport German citizens to Germany, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) on Friday morning.
The South African Institute for Infectious Diseases NICD announced on Thursday that the first 22 cases of the new variant B.1.1.529 had been detected in South Africa. More cases are to be expected in the course of the ongoing genome analyzes. “Although the data situation is still limited, our experts are working overtime with all monitoring systems in order to understand the new variant and the possible implications associated with it.”
Health Secretary Joe Phaahla said the new variant confirms the “fact that this invisible enemy is very unpredictable”. He called on the South Africans to wear masks, to keep their distance and, in particular, to get vaccinated. “We also have the extra vehicle of vaccination, which will help us avoid serious illnesses including ending up in clinic or even falling victim to the virus,” he said.
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According to Reuters information, Germany will declare South Africa and possibly other neighboring countries a virus variant area on Friday. According to information from the Reuters news agency from the Ministry of Health, the regulation will come into force at night. Airlines will then only be allowed to return Germans to Germany. Vaccinated persons also have to be in quarantine for 14 days after their entry.
“We were, are and will remain cautious when entering the country,” stressed Health Minister Jens Spahn. “This newly discovered variant worries us. That is why we act pro-actively and at an early stage. The last thing we are missing now is a new variant that has been brought in, which causes even more problems. “
Some countries are canceling air traffic to South Africa
The European Union goes one step further and wants to cut air traffic from southern Africa “The Commission will, in close consultation with the Member States, propose activating the emergency brake in order to cease air traffic from southern Africa due to the worrying variant B.1.1.529 “, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.
Israel classified the countries of South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini as “red countries”. Foreigners are no longer allowed to enter Israel from these countries, said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office.
When Israelis return home from these countries, they have to be in quarantine in a Corona hotel for up to 14 days, but can test themselves with two negative PCR tests after a week. The new variant will be closely monitored to prevent it from spreading in Israel, it said.
In Japan, the government has also decided to tighten border controls for travelers from South Africa and five other African countries, as reported by the Jiji news agency. The background is the new coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa.
More contagious than other variants?
The British government is restricting air traffic from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia because of the new virus variant. Health Minister Sajid Javid said that there was a strict hotel quarantine requirement for those arriving.
There are indications that B.1.1.529 is even more contagious than the Delta variant and that the available vaccines are less effective. Air traffic from the six countries should cease from Friday noon.
So far, no cases with the new variant, which is said to have around 30 mutations, have been found in the UK. But according to the PA news agency, 500 to 700 people from South Africa alone arrive in the country every day. A higher number is expected over the Christmas season.
These possibilities must now be exhausted. The federal states should not only look to Berlin “as if in a state of shock”. At the same time, Wissing demands that the federal government still in office must now decide how to react to the new coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa. This also included measures in air traffic.
PA quoted an expert from the UK Healthcare Safety Authority with the assessment that B.1.1.529 was “the worst variant” seen so far. So far there are only confirmed cases in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong.
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