Latest news on coronavirus: South Africa criticizes UK for ‘rushed’ travel ban

SWest Africa has criticized Britain’s “hasty” decision to put the country on the travel red list, following the emergence of a new variant of Covid-19 which, according to authorities, could escape vaccines.

The UK announced Thursday evening that all flights from South Africa, as well as Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana, would be banned from midday Friday.

South Africa’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Friday: “While South Africa respects the right of all countries to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect their citizens, the UK’s decision to temporarily banning South Africans from entering the UK appears to have been rushed as even the World Health Organization has yet to give advice on next steps. ”

The ministry said it would speak to the UK government to try to persuade it to reconsider its decision.

Naledi Pandor, South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, said: “Our immediate concern is the damage this decision will cause to both tourism industries and businesses in both countries. “

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new variant “may be more transmissible” than the delta variant and added “the vaccines we currently have may be less effective”.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of Transportation, said there were concerns the new variant could “defeat the vaccine.” He told BBC Breakfast that ministers had acted “extremely quickly” to control travel.

The The B.1.1.529 variant was found in 77 cases in South Africa, four in Botswana and one in Hong Kong, in a patient who had recently visited South Africa.

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