Spain announced on Tuesday that it would suspend flights from South Africa from Thursday to December 15 to “fight against the spread” of the Omigron variant, first identified in South Africa.
The decision, which was approved by the Cabinet, was expected to last for several days. A traveler from South Africa was found polluted in Madrid on Monday.
According to Spanish officials, seven countries have been affected by the restrictions: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The operation will take effect on Thursday at 12:01 a.m. and will be maintained until midnight on December 15.
These restrictions could be “extended if necessary, depending on the evolution of the situation and the epidemiology and decisions that can be taken concurrently in the EU,” the Ministries of Health and Transport said in a joint statement.
Exceptions are made for flights carrying “Spanish citizens residing in Spain and residing in Andorra” and “Passengers on International Transport to a Country” outside the Schengen area with a stoppage of less than 24 hours. However, the ministries warn in their press release that the latter are unlikely to “leave the airport’s traffic zone”.
Since expanding the Omigron variant, Spain has expanded its list of countries where flights have stopped from the southern hemisphere of Africa. These restrictions have been condemned by South Africa but by the World Health Organization (WHO).
These restrictions are aimed at protecting the health and safety of citizens by controlling the progression of the disease, the Spanish government said in a statement, “in line with the recommendations of the European Union.
A new variant of the corona virus, which is already spreading in many European countries, was first detected in Spain on Sunday by a 51-year-old man returning from South Africa. According to the hospital that took care of him, he had mild symptoms.
The WHO estimates that the “potential for omicron transmission worldwide” is “high.” UN President Tetros Adanom Caprais on Tuesday asked member states for a “rational” and “proportional” response to the discrepancy.