PRETORIA, November 29./TASS/. The first repatriation flight from South Africa for Russian tourists will be operated on December 3, the Russian Consulate General in Cape Town wrote on the Telegram channel opened specifically to deal with repatriation issues amid the spread of a new coronavirus variant in Africa.
"According to early information, the repatriation flight with the support of Ethiopian Airlines will be carried out on December 3 on the Cape Town-Addis Ababa-Moscow route," the diplomatic mission said.
The flight will be a commercial one, it added. The ticket price will depend on the number of passengers. An exodus of tourists from South Africa began on November 25, when news broke of the Omicron variant.
The Russian Consulate General is asking Russian tourists wishing to leave South Africa to make requests for departure by Monday at 18:00 local time (19:00 Moscow time).
There is no exact data on how many Russian tourists are currently in South Africa, but the figure most frequently mentioned by diplomats is 1,500 people. Russia and South Africa are not connected by direct flights, tourists get to southern Africa with transfers. Since November 25, many carriers have suspended flights to South Africa and neighboring African countries because of concerns over a new coronavirus variant.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. It also said that the new variant has "a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning." "Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs," it said.
The south of Africa is the epicenter of the new variant. The highest figure of infections is reported currently from South Africa. According to reports, alone in the most densely populated province of Gauteng, 1,500 people were infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the past three days.