Brussels 26.11.2021 Concerns over a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa have caused new wave of travel restrictions in Italy and Germany on Friday, November 26, as Brussels demands the EU-wide flight restrictions. (Image: illustration).
The European Commission will propose to suspend air travel from southern Africa amid concerns over this particular variant, EC President Ursula Von der Leyen announced on Friday.
The proposal could be enacted in urgent procedures on Friday night, November 26.
Germany, Italy and France have already announced measures to restrict air travel from the region.
Rome has banned entry on its territory to anyone who has stayed in southern Africa during fortnight, said health minister Roberto Speranza, invoking “maximum precaution” in the face of the new variant.
The countries targeted by this measure are South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, the Minister has underlined.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, November 26, airlines coming from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens, meaning only repatriations will be possible.
South Africa, like much of the region, has suffered through three significant pandemic waves since the beginning. While the number of new infections across the country is now still relatively low and positivity levels are under 5%, public health officials have already predicted a fourth wave because of the mutations of the virus alike the one they have discovered now.
During a news briefing, South African genomic scientists said the variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 in the key spike protein, which is the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.