Italy bans arrivals from southern Africa over new Covid variant

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 26 Nov, 2021 Updated Fri 26 Nov 2021 09:07 CEST
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Travellers walk at the Terminal 4 of Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in Madrid, on March 23, 2021. - Spain will on March 30 lift restrictions on arrivals from Britain that have been in place since December to prevent the spread of new coronavirus strains, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said. Restrictions on arrivals from Brazil and South Africa will be extended until April 13 but "not those with Britain" because the country's vaccination campaign is very advanced, she told a news conference. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Italy said on Friday it was banning entry to those who have been in southern Africa in the past fortnight due to fears over a new coronavirus variant.


The ban applies to South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said scientists were studying the new B.1.1.529 variant, "and in the meantime, we will follow the path of maximum caution".

Germany and Italy on Friday joined Britain in banning most travel from South Africa as governments scramble to prevent the spread of a new Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations.

In a sign of the growing alarm, the European Union separately proposed prohibiting travel from southern Africa.


The EU's executive "will propose, in close coordination with member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529," EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen tweeted on Friday.

In Rome, the government on Friday announced it was banning entry to those who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia or Eswatini in the past fortnight.

Britain announced that all flights from South Africa and its same neighbours would be prohibited starting 1200 GMT on Friday.

One UK expert described the variant, known as B.1.1.529, as "the worst one we've seen so far", and said there is concern it has the potential to evade immunity, the BBC reports.

No cases have been confirmed in Europe.

Only 59 confirmed cases have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana so far.



AFP/The Local 2021/11/26 09:07

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