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Monday, January 24, 2022

Qatar Airways U-turns on Omicron-related South Africa traveller ban


Qatar Airways will restart outbound and inbound flights to South Africa after previously placing a ban on travellers from the country. 

Qatar Airways has gone back on its previous ban on travellers from South Africa and has reinstated inbound and outbound flights from the country as of Sunday.

The carrier tweeted that there will be 21 inbound flights from South Africa, with twice-daily passenger services out of Johannesburg and a daily service from Cape Town.

The original ban came after South Africa was added onto Qatar’s Exceptional Red List in November, when the new Covid-19 variant Omicron was first detected.

At the time, various nations hastily responded with a knee-jerk reaction against South Africa, slamming travel restrictions from a number of African countries.

Qatar had announced that unvaccinated visitors coming from the following countries were not prohibited to enter the Gulf state: Bangladesh, Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, India, Lesotho, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

The global restrictions on the region triggered allegations of bias towards Southern Africa, especially after it was revealed that ‘patient zero’ had not had any contact with this part of the world.

South African scientists were the first to stumble across would be known worldwide as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, with European health agencies confirming the variant was already in the Netherlands a week before South Africa reported Omicron to the World Health Organization.

Read also: Can you “mix-and-match” COVID vaccines?

Reports have now suggested that Omicron, while more contagious, does not seem to be any more dangerous than previous Covid-19 variants.

“Qatar Airways has worked diligently throughout the pandemic to keep flying within the ever-changing regulations across the globe, and it is particularly gratifying to once again be able to carry our South African customers to visit family and friends over the festive period or to enjoy a well-earned break,” said Hendrik Du Preez, Qatar Airways Vice President for Africa.

All passengers who were affected by the ban over the past two weeks can now rebook their tickets for one of the flights.

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