Denmark strictly limits travel from seven African countries due to Covid-19 variant

Passengers queue for Covid-19 testing before traveling on international flights at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 26th.
Passengers queue for Covid-19 testing before traveling on international flights at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 26th. Photo: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark will implement restrictions on travel from South Africa and six neighbouring countries, effective midnight on Friday, due to concerns over a new Covid-19 variant.

Danish authorities confirmed the decision at a briefing on Friday afternoon in response to the emergence of the new variant, B 1.1.529, emerged in South African province Gauteng. 

The variant has an unusually high number of surface protein mutations, eliciting concern from experts. It appears to be spreading rapidly in the South African province and has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong.

The United Kingdom placed South Africa on its “red list” of Covid-19 travel restrictions on Friday and other countries have suspended flights. 

It remains unclear at the current time whether the variant is more transmissible than earlier forms of Covid-19.

However, medical director Tyra Krause of the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI) said at the briefing there is “concern it can spread and also that vaccines are less effective against it”.

READ ALSO: Danish authorities ‘alert’ over Covid-19 variant

The restrictions mean that Denmark advises against travel to all seven countries: Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini in addition to South Africa.

Travel to Denmark from those countries is only permissible if one of a narrow range of “worthy purpose” criteria is fulfilled. Requirements to test and isolate for 10 days would also then apply to the traveller. A negative test on day four allows the person to leave isolation under Danish rules.

SSI asks anyone in Denmark who has been in any of the relevant countries within the last 10 days to take a test for Covid-19.


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