The Angolan government has announced the suspension of flights to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Tanzania, due to the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.1.529 or Omicron.
The measure took effect on Sunday midnight (28th November) and will stay in force until 5th January 2022.
Henceforth, citizens who arrive in the country and have traveled through the countries in question will have to comply with a 14-day home quarantine following a negative virus test upon landing.
Elsewhere, Rwanda also suspended direct flights to southern Africa in a bid to prevent the entry of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant. With the decision, Rwanda’s national flag carrier, RwandAir has effectively suspended flights to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, Lusaka in Zambia and Harare in Zimbabwe.
The UK also introduced new travel conditions for six African countries, including South Africa, due to growing concern over omicron. It added South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini to the travel red list and flights from those countries are temporarily banned.
Following the announcement, British and Irish nationals arriving from these countries must quarantine, and citizens from these countries will be denied entry. Direct flights will be temporarily banned until quarantine facilities are set up.
US officials also said flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be blocked, mirroring earlier moves taken by the EU and the UK.
Kenya is yet to make a decision whether to join the US and EU member States in imposing new travel restrictions on South Africa and seven other southern African countries.
South Africa has protested against the flight bans, terming them “unjustified” and “punishment” for its scientific transparency.