Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from seven southern African states over COVID

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Saudi Arabia has suspended flights to and from seven southern African nations due to concerns related to the spread of the new variant of COVID-19.

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According to a statement carried by the state news agency (SPA), the seven countries are South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.

A senior official in the interior ministry said the decision includes suspending entry to the Kingdom for non-nationals, who come directly and indirectly from the mentioned African countries except for those who have spent a period of no less than 14 days in another country from which health procedures in the Kingdom allow entry to those coming from, in accordance with the approved health procedures, according to SPA.

Provided that the entire approved institutional quarantine procedures for a period of (5) days are applied to all excluded groups coming from these countries, including citizens of the Kingdom, regardless of the status of immunization.

The source explained that all procedures and measures are subject to continuous evaluation by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom, according to the developments in the epidemiological situation globally, while warning citizens and residents to avoid traveling to the seven African countries until further notice.

On Friday, global authorities reacted with alarm to a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, with the EU and Britain among those tightening border controls as researchers sought to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant.

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Hours after Britain banned flights from South Africa and neighboring countries and asked travelers returning from there to quarantine, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned against hasty travel bans.

On Thursday, Saudi authorities said they will allow direct entry to travelers from Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt and India starting December 1, lifting a requirement that they first spend two weeks outside the six countries.

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