South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said Tuesday that there is no need to impose restrictions for other countries with high COVID-19 infections following the detection of the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant in his country.
"We were not imposing any restrictions or travel requirements for China, the United States or any country with rising infections," said Phaahla when briefing the media virtually about COVID-19.
A patient with the XBB.1.5 variant was discovered on Dec. 27 during a random sampling and further details remain unknown, he said.
The minister said they have engaged scientists, the World Health Organization and the ministerial advisory committee, who suggested that there is no need to impose travel restrictions internally or for any country.
"We were advised to increase surveillance and vaccination. We will do wastewater testing on aircraft from China, the United States or any country with rising infections to check for the virus. We will step up our communication and messaging for people to get vaccinated or a booster," he said.
Michelle Groome, an official at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, said wastewater testing on aircraft will start next week as part of the surveillance.