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B.1.1.529 Covid variant – what we know so far

by Guy Murphy

A new variant of COVID-19 (B.1.1.529) has been identified in parts of Africa and has been declared a variant under investigation (VuI) by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Currently, no cases of the variant have been identified in the UK and the Government has taken the precautionary measure of placing a number of countries on the travel red list.

The travel restrictions will impact arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia from today (Friday 26 November).

This means non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.

UK and Irish residents arriving between midday Friday 26 November and 4am Sunday 28 November from these six countries will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days. They must take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 post-arrival. These can be NHS PCR tests and passengers should take them even if they have already booked or taken their lateral flow test.

UK and Irish residents arriving from 4am Sunday must isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days. During their stay, they will be required to take a coronavirus test on day 2 and day 8.

Residents can read more on the variant and the Government’s response here.