The United Kingdom has added Rwanda and Burundi to its travel ban red list to prevent the spread of new variants of COVID-19.
A UK government statement on Thursday said that the decision to ban travel from both countries 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, the UK says.
The United Arab Emirates was also placed on the UK travel ban list.
“From 1 pm 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,” the statement says.
“Any exemptions usually in place will not apply, including for business travel. British nationals currently in the UAE should make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to the UK. Indirect commercial routes that will enable British and Irish nationals and residents to return to the UK continue to operate.”
It added: “Today’s action follows new measures announced by the government to minimise travel across international borders and reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, including managed isolation in hotels and the need to declare a reason for travel.”
The ban will not only dampen prospects of recovery for its national courier- RwandAir which has flights to Heathrow Airport, but will also undermine ongoing plans to host the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) slated for June, during which thousands of delegates are expected to fly into the country from various parts of the world.
The biannual meeting was originally slated for June last year in Kigali but was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Rwanda says it plans to upgrade its testing capacity to trace new variants of the virus.
The country is experiencing a deadlier second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed 186 people and infected 14,529 people as of Thursday, January 28.
The country currently has 5,109 active cases while 9,234 people have recovered.
Kigali has so far spent 11 days close under a total lockdown due to a surge of infections.
Due to a persistent rise in cases, the country’s positivity rate is now 7.2 percent.
A cabinet meeting is expected in the next few days to assess the progress in curbing the virus and issue new measures.