Germany will declare South Africa a virus variant area on Friday after the detection of a new COVID-19 variant there, a health ministry source said.
The decision, which will come into effect from Friday night, will mean airlines will be allowed to fly only Germans to Germany from South Africa, according to the source. Returning Germans, even those who are vaccinated, will then have to spend 14 days in quarantine.
"This newly discovered variant worries us. That is why we are acting pro-actively and early here," Health Minister Jens Spahn said. "The last thing we need now is a new variant being introduced that causes even more problems."
The variant - called B.1.1.529 - has a "very unusual constellation" of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body's immune response and make it more transmissible, South African scientists say.