On Thursday, South Africa’s Department of Health held an emergency briefing to inform the public that a new variant of the Covid-19 virus has been detected in the country.
The B.1.1.529 is concerning as it has 32 spike protein mutations. Professor Tulio De Oliviera does however say that it is difficult to predict the impact the new variant will have.
Upon hearing about the new variant, the United Kingdom (UK) added some new names to its red list. At midday on Friday, South Africa along with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe will be added to the red list.
More than 43 000 tourists from Britain visited South Africa in 2019 however the recent announcement will see the figues be lower than expected.
This comes as a massive blow to South Africa’s tourism and hospitality industries. The industries were hoping to use the upcoming festive season to claw back financial losses made during the pandemic and lockdowns.
UK tourists who arrive back in Britain after 4am Sunday 28 November must now quarantine upon arrival in a quarantine managed hotel. They will also be required to book a quarantine hotel package and 2 Covid-19 tests.
South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has called the move from the UK rushed. This as the World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to advise on the way forward. They have announced they will be engaging with the British government in order to persuade them to reconsider their decisions.
DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor said: “Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries”.
In the last 24 hour cycle, South Africa reported 2 465 new Covid-19 infections with 1 950 new cases reported in Gauteng. An additional 114 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported in the country. The UK reported 46 654 new cases of the virus in their last 24 hour cycle.