Austria bans flights from southern Africa over new Covid-19 variant

Austria bans flights from southern Africa over new Covid-19 variant
A flight ban from South Africa to Austria will come into effect from midnight on Friday. Photo credit Emmanuel Croset/AFP.
A new Covid-19 variant detected in southern Africa is causing international concern and prompted Austria to ban flights from South Africa and several neighbouring countries on Friday.

Austria has issued an entry ban on flights from South Africa as the World Health Organisation (WHO) investigates a new variant of Covid-19.

Austrian citizens returning from South Africa are still allowed to enter Austria but have to provide a PCR test result on entry, register with the authorities and quarantine for ten days.

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Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) announced on Twitter that the flight ban will come into effect from midnight on Friday and will apply to South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini. 

All countries are now classified as virus variant areas in Austria.

The new variant, currently known as B.1.1.529, is reported as being a heavily mutated strain.

In a Tweet, Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission President, recommended activating the “emergency brake” to suspend air travel from the southern African region into the EU.

The WHO will meet today to discuss the new variant.

READ MORE: ‘Impfpflicht’: How will Austria’s mandatory vaccination law work in practice?


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