Britain has added Rwanda, United Arab Emirates and Burundi to its to red travel ban list to prevent the spread of a more contagious and potentially vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa late last year.
“From 1pm on Friday 29 January, passengers who have been in or transited through the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK,” said UK’s Department for Transport on Thursday night.
This does not include British and Irish nationals, or third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK, who will be able to enter the UK but are required to self-isolate for 10 days at home, along with their household.
Passengers returning from these countries cannot be released from self-isolation through Test to Release.
RwandAir, which was yet to comment on this development, resumed flights to and from London and Brussels to Kigali on October 3, 2020 after suspension of travel over COVID-19.
Britain said it had “taken the urgent decision to ban travel to the UK from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Burundi and Rwanda to prevent the spread of the new variant originally identified in South Africa into the UK.”
“The decision to ban travel from these destinations follows the discovery of a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, that may have spread to other countries, including the UAE, Burundi and Rwanda,” UK’s statement seen by ChimpReports reads in part.
Rwanda has so far confirmed 14,529 coronavirus cases with 186 deaths:
In response to the pandemic surge, especially in City of Kigali, the Cabinet on January 18 placed Kigali under total lockdown, restricting movements for only essential services.
Travel between Kigali and other provinces and districts of the country was blocked, except for tourism or essential services.
All schools (public and private) including universities remain closed but remote learning is encouraged; places of worship are closed; funeral gatherings should not exceed 15 persons.
RwandAir usually has large numbers of passengers connecting from Britain through Kigali to Lusaka, Harare and Entebbe. This implies cancelling travel to London will have sweeping implications for the airline.
British nationals currently in the UAE have been advised to make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to the UK.