Scarlets and Cardiff attempt to fly back from South Africa before travel shut down due to new Covid variant
The Scarlets and Cardiff rugby regions are attempting to fly back from Cape Town and Durban in South Africa as the country is placed on a travel red list due to the new Covid variant B.1.1.529.
The latest variant which has spread to a number of countries in Africa as well as Hong Kong is believed to have a number of mutations that could make it more transmissible and help it evade current vaccinations. 59 cases have been recorded so far in total.
The Welsh rugby clubs that were due to play against the Lions, Stormers, Sharks and Bulls are aiming to fly home before 4am on Sunday when they will have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days. That would have a knock-on effect on Champions Cup matches against Bristol and Toulouse.
Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack tweeted on Thursday night that “many will have seen the news about the new Covid variant that affects our Scarlets people in South Africa.
“We are focused on the welfare of our staff in South Africa and the concern of their families at home. We are exploring all options to repatriate our people asap.”
England’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “As part of our close surveillance of variants across the world, we have become aware of the spread of a new potentially concerning variant.
“We are taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely.”
The Welsh Government has tended to stick to the same international travel restrictions as the UK Government.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has designated B.1.1.529 a “variant under investigation”. The chief executive, Dr Jenny Harries, said: “This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility.”
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