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InvestmentsSouth Africa questions UK flight ban amid global alarm over COVID variant...

South Africa questions UK flight ban amid global alarm over COVID variant By Reuters

© Reuters. A traveller is examined for the coronavirus illness amid a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, on the Grasmere Toll Plaza, in Lenasia, South Africa, January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

By Alexander Winning

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa mentioned on Friday a British ban on flights from six southern African nations over a brand new COVID-19 variant appeared rushed, as EU authorities ready related strikes and the World Health Organization (WHO) convened an emergency assembly.

Scientists have up to now solely detected the B.1.1.529 variant in comparatively small numbers, primarily in South Africa but additionally in Botswana and Hong Kong, however say they’re involved by its excessive variety of mutations which may probably make it vaccine-resistant and extra transmissible.

Britain mentioned the variant was essentially the most vital one discovered but after banning flights from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia from noon on Friday.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen mentioned the EU additionally aimed to halt air journey from the area, describing the variant in a tweet as “of concern”.

A WHO working group on virus evolution is because of meet on Friday to debate whether or not to formally give it that label, a designation solely given to 4 variants up to now.

WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove mentioned in a video posted on Twitter (NYSE:) that it may take a number of weeks to know the affect of the variant’s mutations.

The rand slumped over 2% towards the greenback early on Friday, because the variant unnerved traders. South African hospitality shares additionally plummeted.

South Africa will converse to British authorities to attempt to get them to rethink their ban, the overseas ministry in Pretoria mentioned.

“Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries,” Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor mentioned in a press release.

As Asian nations additionally moved to tighten curbs, two Welsh rugby golf equipment in South Africa for a event scrambled to depart as quickly as potential, and British and Irish golfers withdrew from the Johannesburg Open.

South Africa – the worst affected in Africa when it comes to whole reported COVID instances and deaths – had been experiencing a lull after a extreme third wave of infections, till final week when new infections began to choose up.

On Thursday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 2,465 new instances, nearly double the day gone by’s quantity. Although the NICD didn’t hyperlink the resurgence to the B.1.1.529 variant, main native scientists suspect it’s the trigger.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention strongly discouraged journey bans on nations that had reported the variant. “Imposing bans on travellers from countries where a new variant is reported has not yielded a meaningful outcome,” it mentioned.

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