Emirates suspends flights to three African nations over Omicron

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November 27, 2021
Emirates
The A380 is popular with passengers. Photo: Emirates

Emirates has suspended all flights to three African nations over the Omicron outbreak.

An Emirates spokesperson told AirlineRatings.com:  “Emirates is temporarily suspending passenger operations to and from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, from 27 November 2021 until further notice, due to the evolving COVID-19 situation.

“The health and safety of our customers and our people is always our top priority. We continue to monitor the situation, take advice and directives from the relevant health and government authorities, and hope to restore services as soon as the situation allows us to.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to affected customers whom our teams are working hard to contact and assist. We urge passengers to check emirates.com for the latest flight information and travel requirements.”

The World Health Organization announced Friday that its Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) assessed the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. and found that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.

It said that “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.”

The new variant has been named Omicron.

CNN reports that besides South Africa, the newly identified variant has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Belgium.
CNN said that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said there is a “high to very high” risk the new variant will spread in Europe.
A number of studies are underway, and WHO will update member states and the public as needed, the WHO statement said.
Tulio de Oliveira, the director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, told CNN that the variant has “many more mutations than we have expected,” adding it is “spreading very fast, and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few days and weeks.”
CNN said that Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, warned that variant was “acting differently,” however, and it “looks like it’s much more contagious than even the Delta variant.”
Numerous countries, including Australia, are now rolling out bans on travel to and from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, and Seychelles.