RwandAir has announced that it will not board passengers from South Africa and Zimbabwe travelling to Dubai due to the escalating COVID-19 variant, Omicron, that was first detected in South Africa on November 25.
The decision by the national carrier comes after the United Arab Emirates banned travellers from the Sothern African countries. RwandAir said in a statement:
Effective 29th November 2021, passengers originated from Zimbabwe and South Africa will not be allowed to enter United Arab Emirates.
The airline said that the affected passengers will be offered the option to rebook and fly at a later date with no additional cost or request for a refund.
The outbreak of Omicron, the variant identified as B.1.1.529, prompted Rwanda to reinstate a 24-hour quarantine for all the travellers entering the country while all flights to and from Southern Africa have been suspended.
Preliminary data suggest the Omicron variant may be more infectious than the Delta, and also have multiple mutations.
Omicron has been confirmed in multiple countries including South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Israel and Belgium.
Rwanda Biomedical Centre has warned Rwandans about the variant and encouraged them to continue taking COVID-19 precautionary measures.