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Turkey Evacuates Citizens from South Africa over New COVID-19 Variant

Turkey Evacuates Citizens from South Africa over New COVID-19 Variant

Monday, 29 November, 2021 - 07:00
Vaccination rates in South Africa are falling far short of the nation’s goal. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

Turkey has started operating flights to evacuate its citizens wishing to return from South Africa after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant.

It evacuated 71 nationals from South Africa’s largest two cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg, to Istanbul.

Passengers are required to spend 14 days in quarantine on their expense regardless of their vaccination status or recent infection with the virus.

A negative PCR test will be required to end isolation in places determined by the governorate.

The discovery of the new coronavirus variant in South Africa triggered alarm on Friday as Turkey suspended travel from five countries in southern Africa, namely South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the new variant, which it named Omicron, may spread more quickly than other COVID-19 variants, and preliminary evidence suggested there is an increased risk of reinfection.

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.

Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other (variants of concern),” it said.

Scientists from South Africa announced that they had discovered the new strain of the virus in small numbers of people, and they are working to figure its possible repercussions.

Belgium detected Europe’s first confirmed case of the new variant on Friday, as countries rushed to suspend travel from a number of nations in southern Africa.

“No cases of the new variant have been detected in Turkey,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Friday, noting that the delta strain is dominant in the country.

Turkey reported on Friday 23,759 new coronavirus infections and 192 deaths.

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