More than 150 Spaniards try to return from South Africa after restrictions

  • These are tourists or people who were passing through, no to residents

Slightly more than 150 travelers are currently trying to return to Spain after the new international restrictions for the detection of the omicron variant they were surprised in South Africa or in neighboring nations, diplomatic sources informed Efe.

“There are more than 100, but we do not calculate that many more than 160 or 180. We refer to tourists or people who were passing through, not residents, “sources from the Embassy of Spain in South Africa pointed out to Efe, based on the data they were able to collect to date.

“Many are already at the airport or waiting for flights that can leave within a day or two, “added the sources.

Among them there are, for example, a dozen travelers from Valladolid who stayed ashore after the Swiss airline Swiss International Air Lines prevented them from flying as planned by changing their policies and starting to accept only their nationals.

Other companies, such as the Dutch KLM, yes they are maintaining their flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town (southwest), despite the restrictions ordered from Europe, and they are transferring residents of the European Union from South Africa on commercial flights, provided they present the corresponding negative tests.

“Compared with what the pandemic was, it is not so complex,” the sources reassured, and also noted that, compared to other European countries that are estimated to have thousands of tourists in South Africa these weeks, the restrictions are not affecting such a large number of Spaniards.

As commercial flights are available, repatriation flights are not currently being considered.

The discovery of this new variant of the coronavirus, identified as B.1.1.529 and baptized with the Greek letter omicron by the WHO, It was announced on Thursday by scientists and health authorities in South Africa, based on samples taken in mid-November.

At the time of the announcement they had identified already infections in Botswana and Hong Kong (China), but later detections were added in Israel, in Belgium (a case of a traveler from Egypt with no apparent ties to southern Africa), Australia, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

The new variant – of which, however, there are still very few confirmed cases in total– is characterized by presenting an unusual number of mutations (slightly more than thirty) whose impact has yet to be studied.

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Despite the limited information available (due to early detection), from the day of the announcement, numerous countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and the nations of the European Union, they quickly announced drastic travel restrictions for southern African countries.

Spain, although it does not have direct flights to the area, it also joined the European line and tightened controls entry for travelers from that region, who must present a negative test even when vaccinated.

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