Rwanda suspends direct flights to southern Africa over COVID variant


Rwanda on Sunday became the latest country to suspend direct flights to southern Africa in a bid to prevent the entry of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

This is despite the Africa Centre for Disease Control statement that travel bans serve little purpose in managing the spread of the coronavirus.

The Omicron variant, which was first reported by South Africa to the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 24, has now been detected in at least a dozen countries.

“While the variant has not been detected in Rwanda, its effects are potentially dangerous, and therefore Rwandans and residents of Rwanda are required to exercise extra vigilance in the practice and enforcement of preventive measures,” said a statement issued by the Rwandan Prime Minister’s office following Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

Direct flights between Rwanda and southern Africa are temporarily suspended, it said.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed “deep disappointed” by the bans against his country and neighboring states where the variant has been detected.

With the decision, Rwanda’s national flag carrier RwandAir has effectively suspended flights to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, Lusaka in Zambia and Harare in Zimbabwe.

Earlier in the day, RwandAir announced that effective Monday, it will not board passengers from South Africa and Zimbabwe traveling to Dubai.


Story compiled with assistance from wire reports

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