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HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The red-listed countries include South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana
  • The ban on flights arriving from the red-listed African countries is scheduled to take effect from Friday
  • Meanwhile, the SA health department engages in a rapid action to deal with a new variant and urges citizens to follow health measures

On Thursday, South Africa was struck with a new variant of the Covid-19 virus which has infected at least 22 people. The latest development has inflicted fear on international domains with the UK banning flights from 6 African countries. The names of the countries added to the red list are South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The decision to ban flights from the red-listed countries will take effect from Friday.

The health secretary of the UK Sajid Javed has said that anyone traveling to the UK from the list of banned countries from 4 am on Sunday would need to quarantine themselves in hotels. He has further said, “If anyone arrives before then they should self-isolate at home and take a PCR test on day two and day eight.” The organization is scheduled to hold a special meeting today, in order to study the nature of the virus which has been detected from South Africa.

Meanwhile, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has detected a limited number of cases of the new variant which has been named B.1.1.529. Professor Adrian Puren, the NICD Acting Executive Director has said, “It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa.”

Highlighting the modus operandi adopted by the health administration of South Africa, Puren has stated, “Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date.”

Gauteng, North West and Limpopo provinces stand to be the high-risk areas with the most positive cases. A probable reason for this could be their dense population. Dr. Michelle Groome, the Head of the Division of Public health Surveillance and Response at NICD has urged the citizens to be responsible. She has emphasized the fact that the public needs to practice safety measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and getting vaccinated in order to combat the Covid-19 virus.

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