Tuesday 30 November 2021

Morocco suspends flights to the Netherlands as a ‘coronavirus measure’

No flights from Morocco. Photo: Brandon Hartley

Air traffic between Morocco and the Netherlands, Germany and Britain is being suspended from midnight on Wednesday as a coronavirus measure, Moroccan airlines Air Maroc and Air Arabia Maroc said on Twitter.

Transavia too said it had been informed by the Moroccan authorities about the restriction. The KLM unit, which flies 11 return flights to Morocco a week, said it is investigating what the ruling means for holidaymakers and will do all it can to bring people back.

The official Dutch travel advice for Morocco is amber, which means the country should only be visited for essential business, not for holidays. Nevertheless, according to the AD, many Dutch people are in the country because of the half term holidays.

Moroccan news site Le360 said the decision had been taken because of a ‘new variant’ which is on the rise in the three countries.

‘This decision was taken by the authorities, who did not provide an explanation,’ the website said. ‘Le360 was able to learn from informed sources that it was motivated by health reasons, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the Germany having recorded several cases of a new version of the Delta variant.’

The British government has included news of the suspension of flights on its official travel advice website. The Dutch travel advice has not yet been updated.

The BBC reported on Tuesday that officials in the UK are keeping a close watch on a new descendant of the Delta variant of Covid that is causing a growing number of infections.

Delta is the UK’s dominant variant, but latest official data suggests 6% of Covid cases that have been genetically sequenced are of a new type, named AY.4.2, the BBC said. However, experts told the broadcaster it is unlikely to take off in a big way or escape current vaccines.

Spread

According to Belgian virologist Marc van Ranst, the variant, which may be slightly more infectious than the dominant Delta version, has been spotted in Denmark, the UK and Israel.

Van Ranst told Belgian news website De Morgen he would not be surprised if the virus arrived in Belgium because ‘spreading is what viruses continually do’.

DutchNews.nl has contacted public health institute RIVM to find out if the variant has been identified in the Netherlands.

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