Covid: UK ‘must act quickly’ over variant and South African travel fearson November 26, 2021 at 4:51 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow.

The new Covid variant discovered in South Africa that prompted the UK government to introduce travel restrictions is a “huge international concern”, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said. The minister argued experience over the course of the pandemic so far has shown “we must move quickly and at the earliest possible moment” after the discovery. Travel restrictions on arrivals from six southern African nations are set to come in from Sunday – with all UK and Irish residents arriving from that day required to quarantine in a hotel. No cases of the variant have yet been detected in the UK.

File pic of people arriving at Heathrow

Image source, PA Media

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Many countries outside the UK are also tightening their travel restrictions on the region after the discovery of the variant, cases of which have also been identified in Botswanan, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. The EU is proposing to ban flights from the region across the whole bloc, with many member states already introducing restrictions ahead of the advice – while Singapore, Japan and others are either set to introduce curbs or have already done so. Scientists say they still have much to learn about the variant, but have expressed major concerns over the number of mutations it has and its potential to be vaccine resistant and more transmissible.

Woman selling masks and bread

Image source, Reuters

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The BBC’s Africa correspondent Andrew Harding has written about the strong reaction from South Africa over the travel restrictions. Experts in South Africa have expressed concern the country is being unfairly punished for its swift identification of the new strain, as well as its openness and transparency about the discovery. Prof Tulio de Oliveira, the Durban-based scientist leading efforts to understand the variant, has called for the world to support southern African nations affected – rather than “discriminate or isolate” against them.

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Stock markets across the world have fallen sharply after the discovery of the new variant raised fears over the global economic recovery. US stock markets opened lower after big drops in Europe, with London’s FTSE 100 share index down 3.65% and similar falls seen in Germany and France. Shares in airlines and travel firms were among the hardest hit, with British Airways owner IAG leading the fallers as its share price tumbled by nearly 14.5% to £131.96. One investment analyst has told the BBC: “Fear has gripped the financial markets with the travel industry flying into another violent storm.”

BA planes

Image source, Reuters

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Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse is set to miss Saturday’s show after coming into close contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19. In an Instagram post, she explained she was fully vaccinated, which would normally mean exemption from isolation. However, Mabuse is currently in Germany and not able to travel back because of UK Government guidelines, which do not recognise the vaccines she received. Singer and actress Cynthia Erivo will take her place on the show’s panel.

Motsi Mabuse

Wondering how the UK’s reaction to the new variant affects travel rules? Here’s what we know.

UK summary data

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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