Travel warning: New Corona mutant: South Africa becomes virus variant area

So far, the delta variant has been rampant in Europe and is pushing health systems to their limits. A new variant is now appearing in South Africa.

Germany will declare South Africa a virus variant area because of the newly emerging coronavirus variant B.1.1.529. The regulation will come into force on Saturday night, airlines will then only be allowed to transport German citizens to Germany, said the acting Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). If necessary, neighboring countries in South Africa are also affected.

Suspend travel from South African countries

Because of the spread of the new, possibly more dangerous variant of the corona virus, the EU Commission wants to limit travel from southern Africa to the EU to an absolute minimum. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter that the Brussels authority will propose to the EU states that they trigger the emergency brake provided for this in order to suspend air traffic. The authenticity of the tweet has been confirmed to the German press agency. The EU states still have to discuss and decide on this. The emergency brake would not be legally binding, but it would be an important directional decision. Great Britain and Israel already had air traffic to the states of the region as a precaution.

Vaccines may be less effective

“This newly discovered variant worries us, so we are acting proactively and early on. The last thing we are missing now is a new variant that has been introduced and that causes even more problems,” said Spahn. Experts fear that variant B.1.1.529 could be highly contagious due to an unusually large number of mutations and could also penetrate the protective shield of the vaccines more easily.

The South African Institute for Infectious Diseases NICD announced on Thursday that 22 cases of the new variant B.1.1.529 had been detected in South Africa. More cases are to be expected in the course of the ongoing genome analyzes. The World Health Organization WHO is already investigating whether B.1.1.529 should be classified as a matter of concern. WHO expert Maria van Kerkhove said in a briefing. It will also be examined to what extent the variant has consequences for diagnostics, therapies and vaccination campaigns.

For the time being, Lufthansa will continue to fly to South Africa

The German Lufthansa is maintaining the flight connections to the virus variant area South Africa for the time being. “We are implementing the requirements and will continue to fly, also to bring people home and transport freight,” said a Lufthansa spokesman on Friday morning when asked. Lufthansa is closely monitoring the situation and complying with all legal requirements and rules.

About 400 vacationers with tour operators in southern Africa

After South Africa has been classified as a virus variant area, German tour operators will cancel or rebook travel to southern Africa, according to the industry association DRV. The guests concerned would be informed accordingly, said the DRV on Friday on request. “Tour operators are dealing responsibly with the new situation and will actively inform their guests and, if requested by customers, bring them back to Germany ahead of time”. According to the DRV, there are currently only up to 400 guests with German tour operators in southern Africa. (dpa)

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