Harare, (New Ziana) – The United Kingdom has extended an earlier travel ban on South Africa to all Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries over a new strain of Covid-19 thought to have originated from the region.
The ban, announced late Thursday, is effective January 9, and also targets travellers who have visited the listed countries in the last 10 days.
The new strain of Covid-19 was first detected in South Africa, and is thought to spread more quickly, and to have done so already to most of the country’s neighbours.
“From 4am Saturday 9 January, travel restrictions are being placed on a number of countries in southern Africa to protect against a new Covid-19 variant,” the UK’s Department for Transport said.
“These include the following, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini,Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Mauritius and Seychelles.”
The United Kingdom first banned travellers from South Africa after the outbreak, and later added Botswana, Mauritus and Seychelles.
The ban has now been expanded to include all SADC countries.
The new Covid-19 variant, known as VUI-202012/01, though believed to be more contagious, is not more lethal than other strains.
“The measures will be in place for a period of two weeks while we review the scientific data and alternative ways to protect the UK and our partners in Africa,” the department said.
While British and Irish nationals will be allowed to travel back from the blacklisted countries, they will be required to self isolate for 10 days.
The UK has recorded nearly three million Covid-19 infections and almost 80 000 deaths since last year.