The Government of France announced this Wednesday that it will reestablish flights with South Africa from Saturday, after they were suspended to prevent the arrival of the new variant of the Ómicron coronavirus.
These trips will be made with a “Drastic framework”, Informed the French Government spokesman, Gabriel Attal. A week ago, the discovery of a strain of the coronavirus in South Africa had caused the closure of French borders with several South African countries.
In addition, he announced the creation of a new category in the government traffic light system: scarlet red. It will cover the seven countries currently covered by the flight ban, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, plus Malawi, Zambia and Maritius.
Travelers from these countries may only enter France if they have European citizenship or permanent residence, or if they are diplomats. All trips by tourism, family visits or studies from these countries have been suspended.
Attal said in a press conference that so far they have been detected 13 suspected cases of contagion with the Omicron variant in France.
It also indicated that All travelers arriving in France from outside the European Union will be subject to the obligation to test negative for PCR or antigens, regardless of their vaccination status..
The tests must be carried out in the 48 hours prior to the trip. While the people arriving from the European Union (EU) or the Schengen zone they will only need to undergo a test if they are not vaccinated, and it must be done 24 hours before.
Attal noted that European leaders will coordinate decisions regarding travel within the EU this week.
Hours earlier, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, said that lhe European countries are negotiating “an extremely reinforced protocol” to be able to resume the flights that have been suspended with destinations in southern Africa.
On Tuesday, the head of the European Union medical agency assured that they are prepared to deal with the new omicron variant and that in two weeks they will have an indication of whether current vaccines against COVID-19 can combat it.
Emer Cooke, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency, stated that, andn case a new vaccine is needed to attack the omicron variant, it will take up to four months to approve its use in the block of 27 countries.