UK Health Secretary Javid confirms SA to be removed from travel red list

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that all 11 countries on the travel red list would be removed, saying that the system had been shown to be ineffective in slowing the variant.

Coronavirus health warnings are seen in the arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport in west London, on 15 January 2021. Picture: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is to be removed from the UK government's red list, along with ten other countries.

This has been confirmed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid and will come into effect at 6am South African time on Wednesday morning.

South Africa, along with Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe are on the list.

The move by the UK to place South Africa on the list was heavily criticised as premature and unfair as the Omicron coronavirus variant is prevalent in many countries.

Javid said that all 11 countries on the travel red list would be removed, saying that the system had been shown to be ineffective in slowing the variant.

The health secretary told the House of Commons that the countries would be removed on Wednesday morning, so passengers from those nations would no longer have to isolate in a government-approved quarantine hotel.

But he said that the temporary testing measures for everyone arriving in the UK from overseas would remain for now.

Javid said that he has had asked for "urgent advice" about whether people currently in hotel quarantine could be released.