South Africa criticizes Britain’s ‘rushed’ travel ban over new COVID-19 variant

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South Africa’s foreign ministry said Britain’s decision to ban flights from South Africa “seems to be” because of the detection of a new COVID-19 variant, as the World Health Organization is yet to advise on next steps.

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Scientists have so far only detected the B.1.1.1.529 variant in relatively small numbers in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, but they are concerned about its high number of mutations that may help it evade the body’s immune response. and can make it more permeable. ,

Britain on Thursday temporarily banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini after it announced its identity.

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“Our immediate concern is that this decision will harm both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries,” South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in a statement.

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The statement added that South Africa will hold talks with British officials to reconsider its decision.

South Africa has requested an urgent meeting of the World Health Organization’s working group on the evolution of the virus on Friday to discuss the new version.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Emma Rumney and Kim Coghill)

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