The international community last week reacted with fear and loathing to reports of a new coronavirus variant named “ the Botswana variant” on the streets because it was first discovered in Botswana.
Stock markets across the world fell sharply on Friday, reflecting the fears of investors over the potential economic impact.
The FTSE 100 index of leading UK shares closed 3.7% down, while main markets in Germany, France and the US also sank.
The United Kingdom on Friday reinstated its red list which directs flights from Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and eSwatini temporarily banned. Flights to the UK from these countries have been suspended until 04:00 GMT on Sunday – when it’s hoped quarantine arrangements will be ready.
Arrivals will then have to pay for and self-isolate in a government-approved hotel for 10 days. Travellers these Southern African countries will not be able to enter the UK unless they are UK or Irish nationals, or UK residents.
The changes mark the return of the UK’s travel red list, which had been cleared of all countries in October. The US also announced on Saturday that it willrestrict travel from Botswana, South Africa and six other southern African countries to try to contain a new coronavirus variant spreading there.
From Monday, only US citizens and residents will be allowed to travel from the region.
This follows a similar flight ban imposed by the EU and the UK. Canada is also introducing travel restrictions.
US officials said flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be blocked, mirroring earlier moves taken by the EU. The ban will come into effect tomorrow ( Monday.)
In a statement, President Joe Biden called the move a “precautionary measure” taken until more is known about the variant.
Canada is also shutting its borders to foreign travellers who have recently been to Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Foreign citizens will be banned from Canada if they have been to the seven nations in the past 14 days.
In addition to the UK, and the US the EU and Canada, a host of other countries have also announced restrictions:
· Australia announced on Saturday that flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique would be suspended for 14 days. Non-Australians who have been in those countries in the past two weeks are now banned from entering Australia
· Japan has announced that from Saturday, travellers from much of southern Africa will need to quarantine for 10 days and take a total of four tests during that time
· India has ordered more rigorous screening and testing for travellers arriving from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong
· Iran will ban travellers from six southern African countries, including South Africa. Iranians arriving from the region will be admitted after testing negative twice, state TV says
· Brazil also said it was restricting travel to the region from six countries in Africa
· Australia announced on Saturday that flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, the Seychelles, Malawi, and Mozambique would be suspended for 14 days. Non-Australians who have been in those countries in the past two weeks are now banned from entering Australia.