France closes borders for nationals from 7 South African countries

Entry banned for at least 48 hours due to detection of Omicron variant

hweta Desai   | 27.11.2021
France closes borders for nationals from 7 South African countries


France announced Friday it is prohibiting entry for passengers from southern African countries for at least 48 hours because it is concerned about the detection of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

Travelers from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, will no longer be able to enter France, regardless of their vaccination status, according to a statement from the office of Prime Minister Jean Castex.

The government said it was forced to invoke the measure on the “principle of maximum precaution” as no cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in France.

National carrier Air France also announced it is suspending scheduled flights to and from South Africa. It will fly to Paris with only a crew from Johannesburg without any passengers, BFMTV news reported.

The World Health Organization labeled the new strain, B.1.1.529, a “variant of concern” and cited it as responsible for the steep increase in coronavirus cases in South Africa.

There is an increased risk of reinfection due to the variant but studies are still underway to evaluate its exact effects.
The government called on travelers to suspend planned visits to the banned countries and advised those who have traveled there in the past 14 days to report to authorities and perform a RT-PCR test.

There has been an explosion in the number of cases during the fifth wave of the pandemic in France, which has commenced with “lightning speed,” according to authorities.

As of Friday, 34,436 new cases and 60 deaths have been recorded by the public health department in the last 24 hours.

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