South Africa on Friday slammed as "rushed" Britain's travel ban from six southern African countries, following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations.
Just hours after scientists in South Africa announced they had detected a new variant, Britain said all flights from South Africa and its neighbours Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana would be prohibited starting 1200 GMT on Friday.
The ministry said it would speak to the UK government to try persuade it to reconsider its decision.
South Africa has in recent days experienced a surge in infections -- recording 2,465 new infections in a 24-hour cycle on Thursday -- nearly double the previous day's tally.
Scientists blamed the spike in infections on the variant, which goes by the scientific label B.1.1.529.
The number of fatalities shot to 114 on Thursday from 22 the previous day, in Africa's hardest-hit country.
In the meantime, Britain, which has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19, recorded more than 47,000 positive cases in a 24-hour period to Thursday.
"Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries," bemoaned South Africa's international relations and cooperation minister Naledi Pandor.