The government of the United Kingdom has added Zimbabwe and five other countries to its red list following the detection of new covid-19 variant in South Africa.
Travellers returning from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini will be forced to quarantine for 10 days at a government facility from midday on Friday, government officials said.
Direct flights from the southern African countries have been temporarily banned because the infrastructure to support hotel quarantine is not ready, one travel industry executive said.
The UK government is aiming to have dedicated arrivals terminals and hotels ready to receive red list passengers from Monday.
The red list, which once included more than 50 countries, had been suspended on November 1.
The rule change follows mounting concern by scientists over the B. 1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant’s ability to evade the vaccines and transmit faster than the Delta variant.
The strain, first identified in Botswana, is believed to be behind a resurgence in Covid cases in South Africa over the past week.
South Africa and other countries in the region only left the UK’s previous red list in October. Travel restrictions were first imposed on the region at the start of the year over the Beta variant, which was superseded by Delta.