New Covid variant: The Czech Republic bans travel from 8 African Countries

Third-country citizens have spent more than 12 hours in eight African countries in the last 14 days — South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia – will be unable to enter the Czech Republic starting on Saturday.

The citizens of the Czech Republic and the European Union and holders of long-term stays will be entitled to do so under strict restrictions.  The measure is in effect until December 12s  Jakub Kulhánek, the outgoing Foreign Minister, announced on Twitter. It is not advised to travel to these countries. 

The measures were taken due to the spread of a new Covid variant detected in South Africa. Virologists are warning that the B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19 is a “cause for concern.” It has been described as having an “awful spike mutation profile,” while South African scientists underline that the new variant has an extremely high number of mutations. It is not currently clear how effective vaccines could be against it.

On Friday, November 26, the first case was detected in Europe, in Belgium. Officials said a traveler returning from Egypt was infected with the new Covid variant. Israel also announced on Friday that it had detected the country’s first case of the new variant in a traveler who returned from Malawi.

Citizens returning from South Africa to the Czech Republic will have to stay in isolation for at least ten days. After returning from South Africa and other countries, people must also undergo a test within 24 hours and another one on the 10th or 14th day at the earliest. In the meantime, they must remain in self-isolation.