On Friday, European Union (EU) countries announced plans to halt air travel to and from southern Africa in order to combat the spread of a new COVID-19 type as the 27-nation bloc confronts a significant increase in infections, according to Associated Press.
“The last thing we need is to introduce a new version that will exacerbate existing issues,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn stated.
“I propose, in close consultation with the member states, to activate the emergency brake to prohibit air travel from the southern African region,” European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
The novel coronavirus strain discovered in South Africa is causing concern among scientists due to its high number of mutations and quick spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province, according to scientists.
According to Germany, von der Leyen’s suggestion might be implemented as early as Friday night. According to Spahn, airlines returning from South Africa will only be able to bring German nationals home, and all travellers, whether vaccinated or not, will be required to enter quarantine for 14 days.
In recent days, Germany has witnessed new daily case counts set records, and on Thursday, the country passed the 100,000-death threshold from COVID-19.
Due to the new variation, Italy’s health ministry has issued measures to prevent anyone from entering the country who has spent the previous 14 days in any of the seven southern African countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini.
Similar restrictions are being considered in the Netherlands.
“These countries are regarded as high-risk locations. Travelers from these countries would be quarantined and tested twice, according to Dutch Health Minister Hugo De Jonge.
A fourth coronavirus outbreak is wreaking havoc on the EU’s 27 member states, with policymakers scrambling to tighten restrictions in an attempt to stem the spread.