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Botswana Variant Greece: Special permission, quarantine, 3 tests for travelers from 9 south African countries (UPD)

Greece’s Epidemiologists’ Committee has decided to implement a strict hygiene protocol to travelers from South Africa and 8 of its neighboring countries, amid fears over a newly discovered Covid-19 variant, the B.1.1.529 or Botswana variant that is considered highly transmissible and potentially very dangerous.

At an extraordinary meeting Friday afternoon, the Committee decided that travelers from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Eswatini will be able to travel to Greece for very serious reasons only and after they have obtained a special permission by the Greek diplomatic missions in their countries.

Furthermore, travelers will reportedly have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and undergo sever Covid-tests as well as a 10-day quarantine.

Required tests are: one negative PCR to be carried out 72 hours before departure, one Rapid test upon arrival and one Rapid test while in quarantine.

The restrictions go into force at 6 a.m. Saturday, November 27, 2021.

The Committee has also decided to re-examine all positive PCR tests of the last 15 days with the aim to detect whether the new variant among them and to start track and tracing.

More details to be posted as soon as available…

Earlier on Friday, the European Commission proposed on Friday that EU countries suspend travel links with countries in which the new variant of the coronavirus called B.1.1.529, or “Botswana variant,” has been found.

The Commission recommendation is not binding as decisions on travel restrictions are taken individually by the 27 governments of the EU, but it would allow better coordination, the Commission said.

“We want to have fast and coordinated and consistent measures in place because we want to avoid that there are loopholes through which the variant finds its way to Europe,” a Commission spokesman told a regular news briefing.

“So this is why early afternoon, at this meeting, we will discuss with all member states about introducing measures as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.

France has suspended all flights from southern Africa for 48 hours.

Late on Thursday, the UK banned flights from South Africa, Botswana and four more African countries.

The first infections with the B.1.1.529 has been confirmed in Europe and thus in Belgium. The infected patient is an unvaccinated woman who had no connection with South Africa or any other country in the region.

According to rtbf, the woman developed symptoms 11 days after she returned from a trip to Egypt via Turkey. Two more suspect cases are being investigated, a Belgian virologists announced.

An infection with the new variant has been confirmed also in Israel.

Health experts speak of the Botwana variant that carries multiple mutations as a Covid-variant  ‘Worse than Delta’

They examine the new variant regarding symptoms, transmissibility and resistance to available vaccines against Covid-19.

THE WHO has called an emergency meeting.

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