Turkey closes borders to five countries over COVID-19 variant

Turkey has closed its borders to passengers from five countries as a measure against the new coronavirus variant, the country’s top health official Fahrettin Koca announced on Friday.

The measure taken against the highly-mutated variant, which was first identified in South Africa, applies to travellers from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, the health minister said in a Twitter post.

The World Health Organization on Friday declared that the new coronavirus strain was a “variant of concern”, prompting countries around the world to impose travel restrictions amid fears over its potential spread.

The United Kingdom has suspended flights from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. EU member states, on the other hand, have agreed to introduce rapid restrictions on all travel from the countries, as well as Mozambique.

Belgium on Friday reported its first case of the new variant in a traveller who had been in Egypt and Turkey, the Guardian reported.

The case involves an unvaccinated woman who had travelled to Egypt via Turkey, pointing to community transmission as she had no connection to South Africa, it said.

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