Countries are blocking travel after South African health officials said the new variant was dominant among recently confirmed infections.
South Africa faces growing isolation as more countries ban travel due to the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.
Israel, Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland are among the countries that have halted air travel to and from South Africa following news that a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is behind the resurgence of the disease in South Africa, with a growing number of confirmations. cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
According to health officials and scientists leading the country’s anti-virus strategy, the new variant, known as 501.V2, is dominant among recently confirmed infections in South Africa’s current wave.
The new strain, different from that of the UK, appears to be more infectious than the original virus.
South African scientists are studying whether COVID-19 vaccines will also offer protection against the new strain.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chairman of the government’s COVID-19 ministerial advisory committee, said in a briefing to reporters on Monday that preliminary data suggested the new strain dominated South Africa’s latest wave, which is spreading faster than the first one.
In response to the resurgence of COVID-19, the South African government has introduced more stringent lockdown restrictions, which include limited days and hours for the alcohol trade and beach closures in areas identified as hot spots.
Despite this, Haru Mutasa of Al Jazeera, reporting from Johannesburg, said the mood in the country was “festive”.
“You see people flocking to the beaches, having their parties. Some wear masks, some don’t, ”she said, adding that the flight bans were a blow to the tourism industry.
“The South African tourism industry around this time of year relied on people from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world.
“Today, these companies are feeling the pressure. Many hotels in Durban are closed. In Johannesburg, many large hotel chains are also closed. A lot of people are losing their jobs. “
South Africa currently has more than 8,500 people hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the previous high of 8,300 recorded in August.
So far, a total of 930,711 cases of the virus have been recorded in South Africa, including 24,907 deaths.