Belgium announced on Tuesday that it is closing its borders to travellers from India, South Africa and Brazil.
“The transport of passengers by plane, train, boat and bus, including transit, from India, Brazil and South Africa to Belgium will be prohibited,” the office of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement.
Transport sector staff and sailors — as well as diplomats whose physical presence on Belgian soil is “essential for the proper functioning” of their organisations — will be allowed into the country, the statement continued.
Belgian citizens and residents can travel back from the three countries but they will have to submit to quarantine upon arrival and be tested twice over a week. Failure to do both will result in a fine of €250.
Similar requirements are already in place for travellers coming from the UK.
The interior ministry is to provide further details about the travel ban shortly, the prime minister’s office said.
The measure is similar to the one imposed in France about two weeks ago and aims to curb the spread of COVID-19 variants which were first discovered in these countries.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Belgium has recorded more than 24,000 deaths and 976,000 confirmed infections. According to Johns Hopkins University, Belgium has the tenth highest mortality rate relative to population in the world.
The B.1.617 variant discovered in India is believed to be behind the surge of cases and deaths observed in recent weeks in the Asian country.
The country has recorded more than 2,000 daily deaths over the past seven days with confirmed cases growing by over 300,000 over each of the past six days.
Several countries including the UK, US and EU member states have offered to ship medical supplies to India as the latest wave of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm its health care system.
The P.1 variant first observed in Brazil has also wreaked havoc there with the number of lives lost shooting from 200,000 at the beginning of the year to nearly 392,000 at last count, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. This is the second-highest death toll in the world after the US.
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