South Africa is facing increasing isolation as more countries ban travel to the country following the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.
Israel, Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland are among countries that have immediately stopped air travel to and from South Africa following the announcement that a new and deadlier type of the Covid-19 virus is driving South Africa’s resurgence of the disease, with a sharp increase in numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalisations and deaths.
Health officials and scientists working on the country’s virus strategic plans say the new variant, known as 501.V2, is dominant among recent confirmed infections in South Africa’s current wave.
The new strain, which is different from the one that has hit the United Kingdom causing cities like London to be escalated to Tier 4 lockdown restrictions is reported to be more infectious than the original virus. South African scientists are also studying if the vaccines against Covid-19 will also offer protection against the new strain.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairman of the government’s Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, said in a Press briefing on Monday that preliminary data suggested the new strain was dominating South Africa’s latest wave, which is spreading faster than the first wave.
In response to the resurgence of Covid-19, the South African government introduced tougher lockdown restrictions, which include limited days and hours for the trade of alcohol and the closure of beaches in areas identified as hotspots.In spite this, most people we spoke to based in South Africa confirm that the country still is in the festive mood.
South Africa currently has more than 8 500 people hospitalised with Covid-19, surpassing the previous high of 8 300 recorded in August.So far a total of 930 711 virus cases have been recorded in South Africa, including 24 907 deaths. Meanwhile, a number of countries have decided to close their borders and suspend commercial flights to check the spread of a new coronavirus strain first discovered in the United Kingdom.The identification of the highly infectious strain has caused chaos across the world, with many European and other countries shutting off travel ties with the UK and disrupting trade ahead of the Christmas holiday.
About 20 countries – including Turkey, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Canada – have banned all flights from the UK and more countries are expected to follow suit as the Covid19 seems to be getting worse by the day.
By Eric Knight.