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‘Red List’ quarantine returns and flights banned from six Southern African countries

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The Government has moved quickly tonight in response to the discovery of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa.

It is thought that this variant may be able to bypass existing covid vaccines due to the number and type of mutations identified, as well as transmitting more easily than the Delta version.

Flights from six countries in Southern Africa will be banned from noon on Friday.


These countries are:

  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Botswana
  • Lesotho
  • Eswatini

In addition, ‘Red List’ hotel quarantine will be reintroduced for anyone arriving in the UK who has been in any of the countries above in the previous 10 days.

Travellers who have arrived from these countries in recent days will also be contacted for testing. has not yet been updated to reflect these changes.

More details can be found on the BBC website here.

Comments (58)

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  • Roy says:

    Looks like it was added to the Red List as of noon today. So it seems the ban on those who have visited those countries in the last 10 days coming to the UK is already in force (with the usual exemptions for citizens/permanent residents, etc). Seems like it is only the hotel quarantine aspect that is deferred, and won’t apply except to arrivals after 4am on Sunday. I’m guessing that’s because it takes time to ramp up the hotel quarantine system again.

    But, as always, the government’s messaging is unclear, and media reporting is inconsistent as a result. BBC now reporting that the travel ban won’t take effect until 4am Sunday, which I’m pretty sure is *not* what the government is saying.

    • Roy says:

      BBC now reporting (correctly, I think) that the travel restrictions on non-residents/non-citizens apply from noon today.

  • Paul Pogba says:

    The Botswana/Nu variant has been detected in Belgium, it’s probably already too late. Lets hope the vaccines work.

    • Hak says:

      They work but with less efficacy. Something like half as effective is being touted. So expect a lockdown etc.

      • Andy says:

        They don’t know that yet! BioNTech should have results on vaccine efficacy in two weeks at the latest. Stop scaremongering

        • Jonathan says:

          You can make educated guesses based on Beta which is in that ball park for reduced vaccine protection. Beta all but disappeared as Delta emerged which was significantly more transmissible but less virulent (this is the usual evolutionary pathway for successful viruses).

          Omicron is the love child of Beta & Delta inheriting most of its “parents” concerning mutations so could well possess Beta’s immune evading & Delta’s enhanced transmission.

          • Andy says:

            Scientists are making “educated guesses”, it could be bad, it could be like other variants where it hasn’t taken off.

            No point panicking or scaremongering until we have more data and information.

          • Andy says:

            It could be much more transmissible and much less deadly: natural endgame dor any virus but we don’t know yet

    • Boi says:

      Not very often I find Botswana in the news….all for the wrong reasons this time. my cousin and family were going to join us on our christmas adventure. Suddenly a group of 11 shrank to just 6. sad

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