Italy bans flights from southern Africa over covid variant

Concerns over new variant covid prompt Italy to bring in fresh travel restrictions.

Italy has banned arrivals from southern African countries over concerns about B.1.1.529, a new highly contagious covid-19 variant, the Italian health minister Roberto Speranza announced on Friday.

The order bans entry into Italy to anyone who has been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini in the last 14 days.

"Our scientists are hard at work studying the new variant B.1.1.529" - said Speranza - "In the meantime we will take the path of maximum precaution."

The ban follows similar moves by the UK and Germany travel restrictions for countries in southern Africa as the European Commission considers an EU-wide suspension of air travel from the affected region.