EU moves to halt air travel from Southern Africa over new Covid-19 variant

26 November 2021 - 11:25 By Reuters
The variant has a 'very unusual constellation' of mutations, which are concerning, say leading virologists. Stock photo.
The variant has a 'very unusual constellation' of mutations, which are concerning, say leading virologists. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/anyaberkut

The EU aims to halt air travel from the Southern African region amid rising concern about a new Covid-19 variant detected in SA, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.

“The commission will propose, in close co-ordination with member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the Southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529,” she said in a tweet.

The executive Commission will recommend all 27 member states implement the measure and hopes the European Council will give the green light as soon as possible, an EU official said.

Britain temporarily banned flights from SA, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini from Friday, and asked returning British travellers from those destinations to quarantine.

The variant has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations which are concerning because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, SA scientists said

Scientists are assessing the new virus variant, which was first identified this week. Its discovery on Friday pummeled financial markets in Asia, where stocks suffered their sharpest drop in three months and oil plunged more than 3%.

Decisions by the European Council, which represents member states, do not have to be taken by ministers but can also be signed off by the countries’ ambassadors in Brussels.


subscribe

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.