The United Kingdom has shut its borders to travellers or visitors from South Africa. UK has banned entry from the African Nation amid concern about a variant of COVID-19 linked to the country.
The variant was found in London and north-west England, among contacts of persons with whom the South African travelers had been in contact. At a downing street press briefing on Wednesday, health secretary Hancock said the new variant linked to South Africa was “highly concerning.”
People who have been-in or transited through South Africa in the last 10 days are not allowed into the UK. British and Irish nationals are exempted, but they will have to self-isolate.
The department for transport says the ban reflects an “increased risk” from the new variant, but will be kept under review.
UK visa holders and permanent residents arriving from South Africa will not be affected, but they will be required to self-isolate.
The government has already ordered anyone in the UK who has travelled to South Africa in the past two weeks, and those with whom they have been in contact, to quarantine immediately, along with their households.
The travel ban comes into effect today, Christmas Eve. The government says six million more persons in England will be moved into the highest tier four restrictions on boxing day.
South Africa found a new COVID-19 variant that shares some similarities with another new COVID-19 variant that was detected in the UK. They have evolved separately. They both have a mutation called n-five-zero-one-y.
More than 50 countries, including Germany, Italy, India and Pakistan, have continued to block travellers from the UK. On Thursday, China became the latest country to suspend flights to and from the UK.
Emirates Airlines Temporarily Suspends Flights To South Africa
Emirates Airlines says it will suspend all flights to and from south Africa from this weekend till January the 28th for operational reasons.
The Dubai-based airline says customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa during that period will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin. It did not elaborate further.
Emirates is popular to and from the country. South Africa has seen a surge in cases since a new variant was identified in the country in November.
Emirates is popular with travellers to and from South Africa, but there has been a sharp drop in travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Unique’ COVID-19 Variant Detected In Kenya
Kenya says it has detected a unique coronavirus variant in the south-east of the country, following a study by state-linked Kenya Medical Research Institute between June and October.
Scientists at the institute say more research needs to be done to assess the impact of the variant.
Kenya has so far confirmed nearly 100,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says the faster-spreading South African variant has been detected in three African states – Botswana, Zambia and the Gambia in west Africa.
WHO says Africa has now surpassed three million COVID-19 cases, and daily case numbers were exceeding the first wave peak.
WHO an average of 25,223 cases were reported each day between 28 December 2020 and 10 January 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases.
“Revamped public health measures are ever more critical to avert a runaway surge in infections that could stretch health facilities to the breaking point,” it added.
Dozens Killed In Suspected Rebel Attack In Eastern DR Congo
A senior provincial official in the Democratic Republic of Congo has on Thursday said at least 46 civilians are reported to have been killed in an attack by suspected rebel fighters on a village in the eastern part of the country.
Adjio Gidi, a provincial Interior Minister said as of this afternoon 46 persons are reported to have died and local security forces have been dispatched to the village in Irumu territory to investigate.
He added that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were behind the raid.
According to UN figures The Ugandan armed group is believed to have carried out a string of massacres in the eastern DRC, killing more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019.
Local army spokesman Jules Ngongo said after being alerted to the latest violence, troops went to the village and are in the process of recovering bodies. He did not say how many had been killed.
Some few days ago, unidentified attackers killed at least six rangers in an ambush in eastern DRC’s Virunga National Park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas.
DRC’s eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are home to a constellation of more than 100 different rebel groups, many remnants of its brutal civil wars that officially ended in 2003.