The UK government has placed South Africa and five other countries on its much-maligned travel “red list” following the emergence of a new variant of Covid-19 in southern Africa.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that from noon Friday (12:00 p.m., 26 November) flights to and from countries will be temporarily banned. All UK nationals arriving from the specified countries will need to be quarantined.
The decision follows the emergence of a new variant of Covid in countries like Botswana and South Africa, which has an “alarming” number of mutations.
The variant, designated B.1.1.529 by WHO, has raised concerns about its transmissibility, severity and potential resistance to the vaccine.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) issued an alert Thursday (November 25), confirming that the variant has been detected in numerous cases in the country, and more will be confirmed as the sequencing results are released.
It appears to be the main driver of a spike in infections in and around Gauteng, with local health officials speculating that it could already be widespread in all provinces. The NICD warned that the detected cases of the new variant and the number of people testing positive are increasing rapidly.
Although the impact and significance of the mutations are still uncertain, scientists predicted that the variant would be highly transmissible and likely to be resistant to vaccination.
Javid said adding the six countries to the UK’s red list was therefore “to be careful, take action and try to protect yourself.” as best we can, our borders, ”the UKTN reported.
COVID-19 UPDATE:@UKHSA is studying a new variant. More data is needed, but we are taking precautions now.
From midday tomorrow, six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned and British travelers will have to go into quarantine.
– Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) 25 November 2021
The countries added to the UK Red List are:
- South Africa;
- Lesotho; and
The UK changed its travel restrictions and requirements in October, moving to a system that deals with both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers, with a shorter list of countries that are outright banned.
The South African government and local branches of multinational companies have worked hard to convince the UK to remove South Africa from the list of banned countries. This has now been canceled.
Non-UK residents traveling from Red List countries are not allowed, regardless of their vaccination status. The rules for Red List countries are as follows:
If you have stayed in or traveled to a Red Listed country or territory in the 10 days prior to your arrival in England, you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you:
- are a UK or Irish national;
- Have residence rights in the UK.
Before traveling to England you must:
- Take a Covid-19 test – you must take the test within 3 days before your trip to England;
- Book a quarantine hotel package, including two COVID-19 tests;
- Complete a passenger locator form.
This must be done even if you have been vaccinated, the UK Department of Health has said.
Read: Health authorities on ‘high alert’ as new variant of Covid emerges in South Africa