Britain tonight banned all arrivals from South Africa, as well as travel to the nation, after discovering two cases of a mutant Covid-19 strain which is driving a massive second wave among young people in the country.
The new mutant, called 501.V2, was announced in Cape Town last Friday and is believed to be a more extreme variant than Britain’s new Covid strain which has plunged millions into miserable Christmas lockdowns.
Cases in South Africa have soared from fewer than 3,000 a day at the start of December to more than 9,500 per day, with the mutant accounting for up to 90 percent of those new infections.
More than 8,500 have been hospitalised – surpassing the country’s first wave peak of 8,300 inpatients.
Matt Hancock said: ‘This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant has been discovered in the UK.’
Travel operators started flying out to South Africa from London at the beginning of October.
Virgin Atlantic began running four weekly flights between London and Johannesburg on October 18, while two flights have arrived from Cape Town since Monday.
The company flies Boeing 787-9 aircraft to South Africa carrying 290 people on each trip – meaning more than 11,000 people could traveled under normal conditions – however, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely reduced the number of passengers taking trips.
British Airways has been running seven weekly journeys to Johannesburg and Cape Town since October 1.
It means more than 100 BA and Virgin Atlantic flights have traveled between the two countries since flights resumed.
Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Israel and Mauritius have banned flights from South Africa in an effort to stop the spread of the mutant which is thought to be giving young people more acute symptoms than other variants.
Click here to read more.
Source: Daily Mail