KINSHASA, 22 January 2021 – Passengers traveling from or transiting through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) or Tanzania won’t be allowed to enter the United Kingdom (UK), officials say.

The decision became effective Friday and has been imposed by UK officials desperate to stem the spread of the South Africa variant of COVID-19.

Arrivals Sign at London Heathrow - Photo Euro Weekly News

Arrivals Sign at London Heathrow – Photo Euro Weekly News

“All passengers from these countries, except British and Irish Nationals and third country nationals with residence rights, will be denied entry,” Grant Shapps, the UK Transport Minister said Friday in a tweet.

Shapps said the UK is also demanding pre-departure testing for all passengers coming to the UK.

Earlier this month, passengers arriving the UK from 11 Southern African countries were banned from entry for the same reason.

The 11 countries with the earlier travel ban were Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Thursday said the average COVID-19 death rate on the continent – currently at 2.5 percent continent-wide – has risen above the global average which is sitting at 2.2 percent.

Departure Dar es Salaam - Eugene Gies on Twitter

Departure Dar es Salaam – Eugene Gies on Twitter

Departure Kinshasa Airport - Photo Dreamstime.com

Departure Kinshasa Airport – Photo Dreamstime.com

No fewer than 21 African countries have an average death rate above 3 percent, or 0.8 percent higher than the average global death rate.

The data is from Africa CDC database, the World Health Organization, national health institutions, and Johns Hopkins University.

It is not known the extent to which claims of some countries being COVID-free was factored into the decision.

And controversy swirls in a world where no good deed goes unpunished - Grant Shapps - Global Railway

Who said no good deed goes unpunished? – Photo Global Railway Review

Last June, it would be recalled, Tanzanian President John Magufuli claimed that his country was “coronavirus-free” thanks to prayer and fasting by citizens, a claim that some reliigious leaders have also made in DR Congo.

During the visit to Tanzania earlier this month of the Chinese Foreign Minster Wang Yi, Magufuli claimed that the Chinese official was not wearing a mask because Tanzania is “corona-free”.

The WHO has expressed concern about the perception that some may have that the UK travel ban is discriminatory.

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