Germany has banned all flights from South Africa, except for those carrying German citizens to Germany, in light of the novel coronavirus variant discovered by South African scientists.
The decision was announced by the country’s Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, via a tweet this morning.
Germany will, among other things, declare South Africa a changing region for the virus. With the entry into force tonight, only airlines will be allowed to fly Germans to Germany, and 14 days of quarantine will apply to everyone, including those who have been vaccinated,” Spahn wrote on Twitter.
He also noted that travelers now should be more careful when entering the country because the newly discovered variant #B11529 is worrisome, and authorities are working to combat it proactively.
The new virus was detected by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in South Africa, which states that the alternative is stronger and more transmissible. A total of 22 cases of the new virus variant have been detected so far.
South Africa was on Germany’s list of virus-changing regions for about the first seven months of the year, and was removed from the list only on August 2, along with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Since then, the list of changing regions for viruses has been empty, but the country now consists of South Africa. It is not known if other countries in the southern African region will be added to the list, but more will be revealed later today when the Robert Koch Institute updates the list or high-risk areas and viral variants.
Germany’s decision comes on the heels of the announcement by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who indicated in a tweet on Twitter that the commission would today propose a ban on flights from the South African region.
“The European Union Commission, in close coordination with member states, will propose to activate the emergency brake to halt air travel from the South African region due to the B.1.1.529 concern variant,” von der Leyen tweeted earlier today.
Other countries in the bloc have also taken similar measures, including France, which suspended flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, for at least 48 hours. At the same time, the French authorities have called on people who have been present in the last 14 days in any of the above countries to get a PCR test as soon as possible.
Malta also announced that it will temporarily ban travel from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe from midnight Saturday. Other countries such as Italy and the Czech Republic have also taken similar measures.