Angola has become the first southern African country to suspend flights from its regional neighbours in a bid to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, its national airline said.
A long list of countries have shut their borders to the region since South African scientists announced the new coronavirus variant last week.
Angola’s state-owned TAAG airline on Saturday said it would suspend all flights to Mozambique, Namibia, and South Africa from Sunday until further notice.
The suspension is in compliance with the government’s decision to temporarily ban air links to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, it said in a statement.
Angola itself was placed on the UK’s red travel list over concerns about Omicron last week.
Known as B.1.1.529, South African scientists announced its discovery on November 25, blaming it for a resurgence in cases in the continent’s worst-hit country.
With multiple mutations, Omicron is thought to be highly contagious and resistant to immunity, although its ability to evade vaccines is still being assessed.
The World Health Organization has designated it a variant of concern.
While many Western and Asian countries rushed to enforce travel bans, most African nations have kept their borders open for the time being.
Angola is one of a few to have shut doors, along with Mauritius, Morocco and Seychelles.