South Africa said on Friday it will engage with the UK government to persuade them and reconsider their decision to ban flights from the country over a new coronavirus variant.
“Whilst South Africa respects the right of all countries to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect their citizens, the UK’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering the UK seems to have been rushed as even the World Health Organization is yet to advise on the next steps,’’ the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said South Africa’s immediate concern is the damage that the decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries.
South Africa is one of the leading tourist decisions for British tourists.
The new variant, B.1.1.529, was first identified on Nov. 11 in Botswana. It has also been found in South Africa and Hong Kong.
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the UK was banning flights from South Africa and five other countries because of the new variant.
Arrivals from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days and pay for the stay.
The EU has also urged member states to impose an emergency flight ban on countries where the new variant has been found.