New Covid-19 strain in South Africa: Countries that announced flight suspensions
Countries across the world are implementing ad hoc air travel suspensions from and to other countries where cases of the new Covid-19 strain have been reported. After much of Europe and other countries stopped air travel from the United Kingdom, at least five countries have banned flights from South Africa.
South Africa’s health minister had earlier said that scientists have found out that the increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in the country is being driven by the new strain of the virus, according to a news report by Bloomberg.
Germany, Turkey, Israel, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia have barred flights from South Africa to reduce the spread of the new mutation of the coronavirus, news agency ANI reported. Measures for passengers who are already travelling to these countries from South Africa have also been announced by the respective departments.
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Germany was among the first few nations to close air travel with South Africa. “Because of the reported coronavirus mutation, the federal government intends to restrict travel options between Germany and Great Britain and South Africa,” Martina Fietz, a government spokesperson, was quoted as saying by ANI.
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the country is closing its air space for many foreign nationals following the spread of the more infectious coronavirus variant.
“We’ve got a new pandemic spreading, with a virus we don’t really know about. This mutation could be a coronavirus two. Therefore, we have implemented the decision to close Israel’s skies,” he said, according to AFP.
The PM also mentioned that while there would be some exceptions, the decision otherwise would continue for 10 days and could also be extended further, according to the AFP report.
Turkish health minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter that “With the instruction of our President and with the coordination of our Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, A temporary suspension has been decided for flights from England, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa to our country.”
The Turkish Airlines too, announced on Twitter that it is suspending flights following the government order.
Saudi Arabia has said international flights are being suspended and also the country is closing its land borders to prevent the spread of the virus. It has also suggested measures for international travellers arriving in the country after the ban, according to a report by Reuters.
Switzerland officials suspect that the new virus strain might already exist in the country and suspended all flights from England and South Africa. Patrick Mathys, assistant head of communicable diseases at the Federal Ministry of Health in Switzerland said that the new mutation of the virus is more infectious, as per a Reuters report.
While India is yet to announce any air travel restrictions for flights from South Africa, few other countries including Uzbekistan and the Netherlands have also closed their air spaces for South African flights.