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Quite a few countries absolutely panicked, immediately setting up travel bans, when news broke out of the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 (since named the Omicron variant) being detected in South Africa.
This headline pretty much sums up the United Kingdom’s reaction; “UK halts flights from SA, bans South Africans, and says thanks for spotting new variant”.
Families and friends in South Africa and the UK respectively were left in the lurch, mourning their Christmas plans going up in flames.
In President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address last night, he called upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans, asking them to reconsider their unfair treatment of our country and neighbouring countries.
The UK, United States, European Union members, Canada, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Seychelles, Brazil, and Guatemala have imposed travel restrictions, among others.
Here’s more from Ramaphosa, per News24, in case you missed the speech last night:
“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries.
“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.
“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic.”
Although, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reassured Ramaphosa a few days ago that he would try his best to reopen international travel between the two countries, according to TimesLIVE.
The good news is that Boris might actually stick to his word.
eNCA reported that the Department of International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela confirmed that flights to the UK will resume tomorrow:
…The UK High Commission has confirmed that British Airways will resume direct flights to South Africa from Tuesday, with the first flight to London on Wednesday.
He says Virgin Airlines will also continue flying three times a week into South Africa.
Although, as confirmed by IOL, entry is still restricted to UK/Irish nationals, while those with residence rights will need to undergo a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel when arriving back in the UK.
Other measures include:
I guess we win some, we lose some.
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