Corona Virus: Following the identification of a new coronavirus variety in South Africa, several nations, including the United Kingdom, Israel, and Singapore, have implemented travel restrictions.
The Israeli health ministry announced on Friday that a traveler returning from Malawi had been infected with the novel coronavirus type. The traveler, as well as two other probable cases, have been isolated. It stated that all three had been vaccinated, but that it is still investigating their specific vaccination status.
In the meantime, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning against imposing new travel restrictions. “When it comes to applying travel measures, the WHO encourages that nations continue to use a risk-based and scientific approach,” spokesperson Christian Lind Meier told reporters in Geneva on Friday. The new variant’s transmissibility will be determined in a few weeks, according to the health service.
“Researchers are trying to figure out what the mutations mean in terms of how transmissible or virulent this variety is,” Lind Meier said as a virtual gathering of WHO experts began to decide whether B.1.1.529 should be designated as a variant of interest or concern.
BIONTECH ASSESSING VACCINE AGAINST NEW STRAIN Corona Virus;
Biotech firm BioNTech announced on Friday that it is testing the efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine it created with Pfizer against the new version. “We should have additional results from the lab testing in two weeks at the most.” These findings will help researchers determine whether B.1.1.529 is an escape variant that may necessitate a vaccination revision if the variant spreads internationally, according to a BioNTech spokeswoman.
In South Africa, Hong Kong, and Botswana, a total of roughly 50 confirmed cases have been detected. Travelers from South Africa were found in the confirmed cases in Botswana and Hong Kong.
Britain said that flights from South Africa and five other southern African nations will be banned beginning at noon (12:00 GMT) on Friday, and that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be subjected to a coronavirus test and quarantine. “Southern African countries rely on tourism and trade,” Fahmida Miller of Al Jazeera reported from Johannesburg, adding that the new limitations were destroying hopes ahead of the holiday season.
South Africa was recently removed off the UK’s red list. “The South African administration has expressed alarm, claiming that this restriction has been hurried,” Miller added. South Africa will engage with British officials in an attempt to persuade them to reconsider their prohibition, according to the Pretoria Foreign Ministry. In a statement, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor stated, “Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will bring to both countries’ tourism industry and businesses.”
Australia announced on Saturday that persons who had travelled to nine countries in the region, including South Africa, would face restrictions and that non-citizens would be denied admission. On arrival, returning Australians and their families must undergo a 14-day monitored quarantine.
We shall not hesitate to take additional actions if medical data indicates that they are necessary. And it could mean tightening or loosening regulations.” Greg Hunt, the Minister of Health, stated.
In other Asian news, Malaysia has imposed a travel ban on seven southern African countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, with residents already in the region needing to spend 14 days in government-run quarantine upon their return. Non-citizens from the seven nations will not be permitted to enter.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australia and Malaysia, like many other Asian countries, have had severe rules on international travel to try to contain the virus’s spread. Singapore, which has been gradually reopening its borders to fully vaccinated visitors, imposed further restrictions on southern African arrivals on Friday. As the pandemic enters its fourth year, the European Union’s 27 member states have announced they are exploring more limitations.
“I propose, in close consultation with the member states, to activate the emergency brake to prohibit air travel from the southern African region,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. Anyone who has spent the previous 14 days in one of seven southern African countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, or Eswatini – will be barred from entering Italy, according to Italy’s health ministry.