UK places Southern Africa on red travel list over B.1.1.529 covid variant
Travellers arriving from several southern African countries will have to quarantine amid warnings over a new Covid variant.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said from 12:00 GMT on Friday six countries would be added to the red list, with flights being temporarily banned.
One expert described the variant, known as B.1.1.529, as “the worst one we’ve seen so far”, and there is concern it has the potential to evade immunity.
Only 59 confirmed cases have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana so far.
All flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini are being suspended, Mr Javid said.
He said adding the six countries to the red list was about “being cautious and taking action and trying to protect, as best we can, our borders”.
Anyone arriving from the countries after 04:00 on Sunday will have to quarantine in a hotel, with those returning before that being asked to isolate at home.
Those who have returned in the last 10 days are being asked to take a PCR test.
Recent arrivals from southern Africa will also be tracked down and offered tests in an effort to avoid the introduction of the new strain.
Israel also announced it will ban its citizens from travelling to southern Africa – covering the same six countries as well as Mozambique – and barring the entry of foreign travellers from the region.