Sudan bans flights from Southern Africa

Sudan bans flights from Southern Africa
Photo: Reuters

The Sudanese health authorities have suspended flights from five Southern African countries amid concerns over the new COVID-19 variant.

In a televised address Sunday, the State media reported that the suspension was with immediate effect.

Five African countries affected include South Africa, where the Omicron variant was discovered, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Namibia.

This followed the suspension of flights from other African countries by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Sunday.

Quoting the Saudi state news agency citing a source from the Ministry of Interior, Anadolu reported that Saudi Arabia suspended flights from Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Comoros.

The order came two days after the kingdom imposed a ban on Riyadh-bound flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini as fears over the new variant escalated.

Bahrain also banned passengers from Malawi, Mozambique, Angola and Zambia, according to the state news agency BNA.

However, Bahraini nationals and holders of valid visas to Bahrain were allowed to fly to the Gulf state.

The World Health Organization says the variant was first reported from South Africa on Wednesday 24th November 2021. The first infection, it confirms, was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.

The UN agency warned that Omicron “has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning”.

In a classification note published on its official website, the WHO outlined a series of measures that other countries are asked to implement.

These include enhancing surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and submitting complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database.

Governments are also urged to report initial cases/clusters associated with the variant infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.

Where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, it directed, countries should perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, the effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.