Travellers Stranded After New Covid Version Sparks Alarm

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  • The European Union and other major destinations, including the United States and Canada, have moved to block flights from African countries following the discovery of the Omicron variant, echoing previous emergency responses that triggered a global freeze on travel.
  • French Health Minister Olivier Véran said the “rapid” circulation of the variant in South Africa “means that it’s probably contagious or very contagious,” justifying France’s precautionary stance.
  • Dubai will restrict travellers originating from or transiting from the same seven African countries starting Monday until further notice, Emirates airline said, citing Dubai’s Covid-19 Command and Control Center.
  • The new measures will go into effect Sunday.

Hundreds of South African passengers were detained at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Friday after the Netherlands announced new travel restrictions in response to worries about an aggressive mutation of the novel coronavirus as reported by CNN.

Blocked flights

Following the discovery of the Omicron form, the European Union and other key destinations, including the United States and Canada, have moved to prohibit flights from African countries, mimicking earlier emergency measures that sparked a global travel freeze.

An airport spokesperson said two aircraft from South Africa, one from Cape Town and the other from Johannesburg, landed late Friday morning local time at Schiphol.

In Belgium, a case has also been recorded.

Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe are among the countries affected, according to EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer.

“We don’t know much about the variant other than it’s a major problem that’s spreading quickly,” he said.

Due to the Omicron variant, Canada will “ban the entry of foreign citizens… who have been via southern Africa in the last 14 days,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said during a press conference on Friday.

Tourism fears

The UK stated late Thursday that flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini will be temporarily suspended, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid calling the variety as the “worst ever” strain of the virus.

The “rapid” dissemination of the variation in South Africa, according to French Health Minister Olivier Véran, “means that it’s probably contagious or very contagious,” supporting France’s preventive attitude.

Malaysia and the Philippines have followed suit.

Non-Jordanians travelling from South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, and Botswana will only be allowed admission if they spend 14 days outside those nations in a third country, according to Al Mamlaka TV.

The new regulations will take effect on Sunday.

When you’re in the country, many countries require testing in addition to vaccinations.

Financial impact

While it is too early to assess the virus’s impact, news of its existence and the travel bans were enough to send global markets into a tailspin.

The sell-off began in Asia, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index falling 2.7% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 falling 2.5%.

In Europe, travel and airline stocks were among the biggest losers.

“Unfortunately, I believe so — I’m not saying they’ll go bankrupt in the next few weeks, but the financial situation many of them are in is quite difficult,” Boland added.

A lot of market factors are acting against them.

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Source: CNN

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