South Africa back on UK's travel red list after new variant detected
- SA has been placed back on the UK's travel red list following the detection of a new Covid-19 variant in the country
- Scientists have raised the alarm over the new B.1.1.529 variant which has multiple mutations
- People arriving from SA and 5 other African countries will have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days
- Fedhasa chair Rosemary Anderson says the travel ban will have a devastating impact on SA tourism
The UK has introduced new precautionary travel restrictions after a new Covid-19 variant was detected in South Africa.
There are fears that the variant B.1.1.529 could be more transmissible and vaccine-resistant due to multiple mutations in its spike protein.
The variant, which has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, is being studied further by scientists.
The UK has added South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia to the UK’s travel red list from Friday 26 November.
The UK government says the B.1.1.529 variant has been declared a variant under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency.
The Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) says the UK travel ban will have a devastating impact on the SA tourism industry.
Fedhasa chair Rosemary Anderson says people who planned to travel from the UK to South Africa will likely cancel their bookings.
I would be very surprised if anyone booked a holiday coming to South Africa would still continue to do that because having to quarantine going back is very, very expensive and it's emotionally horrendous to be in a hotel room where you're almost like a guarded prisoner for 10 days.Rosemary Anderson, National Chairperson - Fedhasa
Anderson says she suspects that more countries will follow suit and impose travel restrictions on SA after Israel also place the country on its red list.
With so much that is still unknown about the variant, Anderson says she hopes scientists will find more information that will ease international fears.
"The next few days will be critical to see what happens", she tells CapeTalk host Refilwe Moloto.
They are our largest inbound market.Rosemary Anderson, National Chairperson - Fedhasa
This will obviously spin-off on other countries too. It's just going to have massive negative repercussions.Rosemary Anderson, National Chairperson - Fedhasa
It's going to be very interesting to see if our country starts mandating vaccines or what actions they take to stop this from happening because this is just not sustainable for our country to be locked down on a semi-regular basis and also to be banned internationally from a travel point of view because we so heavily depend on international travel for jobs and livelihoods in our country.Rosemary Anderson, National Chairperson - Fedhasa
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