Rwanda has barred direct flights to and from 9 nations in southern Africa, becoming a member of a rising record of countries which have imposed journey restrictions over a brand new, closely mutated Covid-19 variant.
The new variant, dubbed Omicron, was first reported in South Africa final week, with circumstances subsequently detected in a number of nations, and plenty of governments have moved swiftly to reimpose containment measures.
Direct flights between Rwanda and southern Africa might be quickly suspended “effective immediately,” Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente introduced late Sunday.
“While the variant has not been detected in Rwanda, its effects are potentially dangerous,” Ngirente mentioned in a press release, urging further vigilance.
The nations affected by the ban are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
All passengers who’ve arrived from these nations prior to now seven days need to spend every week in quarantine, at their very own prices, in designated lodges in Rwanda, in line with the announcement.
Rwanda, a rustic of 13 million individuals, will even reimpose a compulsory 24-hour quarantine for all passengers.
The East African nation has enforced a number of the strictest containment measures on the continent and applied a rigorous regime of testing and contact-tracing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday that the brand new variant poses a “very high” threat globally.
Even if the brand new pressure proves to be much less lethal than earlier ones, it might put extra strain on hospitals if it spreads extra simply, it mentioned.
“If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by Omicron, consequences may be severe,” WHO mentioned in a technical word, including that “to date, no deaths linked to Omicron variant have been reported.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday protested the “unjustified” journey bans and referred to as for his or her fast reversal.
“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” Ramaphosa mentioned.
Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera on his half accused Western nations of “Afrophobia” for shutting their borders.
The head of the WHO in Africa additionally cautioned in opposition to border closures.
“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” WHO regional director normal Matshidiso Moeti mentioned in a press release.
Dozens of countries together with Africa’s Angola and Mauritius have imposed journey restrictions since South African scientists flagged Omicron on Thursday.