Rwanda is first Sub-Saharan African country to ban flights to southern Africa

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  • On Sunday, Rwanda's government moved to cut inbound and outbound flights between it and southern African countries.
  • All travellers will have to be quarantined for a day at their own cost in a designated hotel.
  • Around 1.7 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated with 90% workers in Rwanda's tourism sector fully vaccinated.

Rwanda has become the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to impose a ban on inbound and outbound flights to southern African countries in the wake of the new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19, Omicron.

This, despite a call from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to refrain from instituting blanket travel bans that affect southern African countries because of the impact on economies.

In a press statement, the country's prime minister, Dr Édouard Ngirente, said that after an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, it was resolved that "direct flights between Rwanda and southern Africa are temporarily suspended".

ALSO READ | Inside SA leg of Omicron variant discovery: A single test result, a missing gene, and an email

Botswana's health minister, Edwin Dikoloti, told journalists that he noted some form of stigmatisation around the new variant.

"We are concerned that there seem to have been attempts to stigmatise the country where it was detected," he said, as more countries continued to red flag the region.

Ngirente noted that while Omicron was yet to be detected in Rwanda, the country was on high alert because "its effects are potentially dangerous".

As such, the Rwanda government has declared that anyone coming into the country should be quarantined for a day while Covid-19 tests are done at their own cost.

A week later, the government will conduct another test which the traveller is not liable to pay for.

ALSO READ | Scientists had duty to reveal new Covid-19 variant - Professor Glenda Gray

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Rwanda has recorded 100 000 cases and 1 342 deaths. On Sunday, the country recorded five new cases.

Rwandan Development Board figures indicate that 1.7 million people have been fully vaccinated and that 3 million people have had their first vaccine dose.

About 90 percent of people working in that country's tourism industry have been fully vaccinated.

Lenin Ndebele is the News24 Africa Desk journalist. The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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