Dubai International Airport-based Emirates Airline has suspended flights to three African countries, indefinitely.
In a statement, the Gulf State carrier announced that it will be suspending flights to and from South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe from Saturday, November 27.
In the travel advisory, Emirates says that any ticketed passengers who were due to fly to or from southern Africa to Dubai should call Emirates immediately.
Alternatively, they can hold onto their tickets and contact Emirates once flights to the region resume.
The move by Emirates to suspend flights follows the United Arab Emirates (UAE) decision to ban entry into the country from seven nations – South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini (Swaziland).
The ban was placed over concerns about a new variant of the COVID-19 virus that the World Health Organization has named “Omicron.”
UAE’s neighbors, Bahrain and Saudia Arabia have also banned all flights from the above countries and say they will remain in place until more is known about the new strain.
Omicron has at least ten mutations instead of the Delta variants two. This means that, in theory, at least it is more contagious, a trait we are now seeing play out in South Africa.
Critically, the current vaccines that we have developed to tackle the virus may be less effective because of these mutations.