Romania Plans Evacuation for Stranded EU Citizens in South Africa

The Romanian government has sent a repatriation plane for South Africa to help evacuate dozens of Europeans stranded in the region. 

Head of Romania’s Department for Emergency Situations Raed Arafat said the plane left Bucharest on Monday morning to bring home 40 Romanian citizens and 50 other Europeans.

Arafat said a total of 90 seats on the aircraft would be for the European nationals to be safely repatriated “within the framework of the European Civil Protection Mechanism.”

The Romanian Foreign Ministry said 31 players and staff of a rugby team, who were playing in an international tournament, were among the Romanian citizens.

The repatriation came as Europe restricted flights from southern Africa after detecting the new COVID variant Omicron.

On Monday, the World Health Organization said the Omicron posed a “very high risk” globally but urged countries to take a “risk-based and scientific approach” before announcing travel bans. 

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