AMSTERDAM, Dec 21 (Reuters) – The Netherlands on Monday joined a range of nations banning flights from South Africa to stop the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.

The Dutch government said all passenger flights were banned with immediate effect until Jan. 1 at the latest.

An exception would be made for medical workers, it said, while cargo flights were also still allowed.

At least five countries and airlines, including Germany and Turkey, were reported to have banned flights to South Africa on Monday, after a new genetic mutation of COVID-19 had been found there and is believed to be responsible for a recent surge in infections.

The Netherlands on Sunday already banned all passenger flights and ferries from Britain over the same issue. (Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by Grant McCool)

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