On Friday, Doha-based Qatar Airways tweeted that it will not allow passengers to board flights from South Africa and Zimbabwe.
With immediate effect, passengers will no longer be accepted for travel from South Africa and Zimbabwe on #QatarAirways flights, we will continue to review the situation on a daily basis as new information becomes available from the WHO.— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) November 26, 2021
“Passengers who are booked on Qatar Airways flights from airports in either country, including Johannesburg (JNB), Capetown (CPT), Durban (DUR), and Harare (HRE), will not be accepted for travel until further notice,” Qatar said.
A Qatar flight that was scheduled to depart Johannesburg for Doha on Friday at 9:35 p.m. took off at 1:00 a.m. local time. Qatar did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the delayed flight, according to data from flightaware.
The airline clarified it will still transport passengers to South Africa and Zimbabwe “in line with current restrictions.”
On Friday, the WHO designed the Omicron variant, B.1.1.529, a “variant of concern”, and countries like the US, UK, and the Netherlands are tackling the mutated virus with an aggressive ban on passengers from places like South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. The variant was first detected by researchers in South Africa on November 9 and was reported to the WHO on November 24.
“Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern,” the WHO said on Friday.