The European Union is set to introduce measures stopping all flights to and from southern Africa in an attempt to stop the spread of a recently detected Covid variant.
In a tweet, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the European 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”.
Late last night, the UK announced that it was placing South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe on its red list, banning all direct flights from the six countries from midday today, 26 November.
An ‘Unusual Constellation’
South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said the variant, currently known as B.1.1.529, has a “very unusual constellation” that makes it more transmissable as it evades the body’s immunity.
So far, 22 cases of the new variant have been detected, including two in Hong Kong.
Although there is enough concern for the spread of this new variant to warrant the imposition of restrictions to and from the region, it is also known that many new variants, including those with worrying mutations like B.1.1.529, will often just die out if they’re not allowed to spread.