Britain said it was adding the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda to its coronavirus travel ban list because of worries over the spread of a more contagious and potentially vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa.
“This means people who have been in or transited through these countries will be denied entry, except British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights who must self-isolate for ten days at home,” U.K. Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Twitter on Thursday.
“From 4am on Friday morning all arrivals who have, in the 10 days before their arrival in the UK, been in these destinations, and their households, will have to self-isolate immediately, and will not be eligible to use Test to Release” another statement read.
The move authorities say is in response to new evidence showing the likely spread of a coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa. Rwanda has so far registered 14,529 confirmed cases of coronavirus 186 deaths while Burundi has 1,584 coronavirus cases and only 2 deaths registered so far.
On its website, Emirates said it would suspend all U.K. passenger flights from 1300 GMT, when the ban takes effect. Etihad Airways said it would only suspend flights to Britain, with those from the U.K. remaining unaffected.
In a statement, Dubai airport advised those booked on flights due to arrive in Britain after the ban not to go to the airport and instead contact their airline. Britain’s transport department advised nationals now in the UAE to use indirect commercial routes to fly back to Britain.
Border closures caused by COVID-19 made Dubai to London the world’s busiest international route in January, with 190,365 scheduled seats over the month, airline data provider OAG said.