“The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.
UK travel ban
New Covid variant in SA
Javid said the new variant, which South Africa attributed to a surge in cases and had also been detected in travellers from the country in Botswana and Hong Kong, had not been found so far in Britain.
But he said British scientists were “deeply concerned” and as a precaution, a decision had been to suspend all flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana from 1200 GMT on Friday.
“We will be requiring anyone that arrives from those countries from 4:00 am on Sunday to quarantine in hotels,” he added.
“If anyone arrives before then they should self-isolate at home and take a PCR test on day two and day eight.
“And if anyone has arrived from any of those countries over the last 10 days, we would ask them to take PCR tests.”
Covid-19 in South Africa
South Africa 2,465 new cases of Covid-19, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,952,500 – a 6.5% positivity rate increase.
The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (79%) while the North West account for 5%, and Western Cape for 4%.
KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo each accounted for 3% respectively while Mpumalanga accounted for 2%. The Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape each accounted for 1% respectively.
A further 114 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89,771 to date, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)‘s announcement.
Britain’s Covid-19 battle
Meanwhile, Britain is among the hardest hit by Covid-19, with some 144,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. During the recent 24-hour period, more than 47,000 cases were recorded.
The British government launched a third booster dose drive to ease pressure on hard-pressed health services ahead of the expected seasonal respiratory infection surge during winter.
Britain’s government was widely criticised for its travel and quarantine policy earlier in the pandemic, when it kept its borders open to foreign travellers even as infection rates spiralled.