EU states SUSPEND travel from southern Africa after Belgium became the first European country to confirm a case of the mutant Botswana Covid variant

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  • Belgium says it has traced the case of an unvaccinated young woman who returned from Egypt
  • Israel has traced one case to a traveler who recently returned from Malawi and two suspected cases
  • The infection is the third outside Africa after Hong Kong also saw two of the returning passengers.
  • The UK will suspend all travel to six southern African countries today to help kick off the out-of-country edition

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All European Union states have banned travel from southern Africa amid panic over a case of the Kovid super-variant Omicron in Belgium.

The Slovenian president of the EU said that a committee of all 27 EU health experts ‘agreed on the need to activate the emergency pause and impose a temporary ban on all travel from southern Africa into the EU’.

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European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said the sanctions would apply to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

An official said EU governments have also been asked to discourage travel to those countries.

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This comes as Belgium today became the first European country to confirm a case of the super mutant Botswana Covid variant as it spread across three continents in just a fortnight.

Belgium’s health ministry said one case was observed in a non-vaccinated young woman who underwent tests after suffering symptoms. She returned from Egypt 11 days earlier, suggesting that it is already widespread in Africa.

The 27 members of the European Union are free to implement new measures whenever they want. Some are already banning.

EU officials said no decision had yet been made on other countries in other parts of the world where cases have been detected, including Hong Kong, Israel and EU country Belgium.

The new coronavirus variant, first discovered in South Africa, has caused global alarm as researchers seek to find out if it is vaccine-resistant.

Virologist Marc Van Ranst, who detected the new variant in Belgium, told Reuters that it was more likely that the infected woman contracted the variant in Belgium rather than traveling outside Europe.

She had been in Egypt earlier in November, but developed symptoms only 11 days after returning to Belgium. He has not been vaccinated.

Switzerland on Friday implemented a requirement for a 10-day quarantine and a negative test for travelers from Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, in addition to travel restrictions in southern African countries.

Cases of the variant have only been confirmed in these countries, but experts say it is already widespread in Africa. The infection is linked to travelers returning from Egypt and Malawi, but both have yet to report a case

Ursula von der Leyen on the back of the announcement called on the EU to activate an ’emergency brake’ on travel from southern Africa, warning that tensions could turn world-leading in months.

The President of the European Union Commission said: ‘All air travel to these countries should be suspended until we have a clear understanding of the danger posed by this new version. It is important now that all of us in Europe act very swiftly, decisively and unitedly.’

Israel has also detected one case, meaning the variant has spread to three continents in a fortnight. The patient was a vaccinated man who had returned from Malawi. Two other suspected cases are being investigated.

Most of the infections announced so far have been in South Africa. The variant, scientifically named B.1.1.529, is considered the ‘worst ever’ as it is possibly ultra…

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