South African business confidence weakened in November as trade flows fell after a new wave of Covid-19 infections led to renewed restrictions among the nation’s major trading partners.

A confidence index compiled by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry dropped to 92.8 in November from 94.9 in the previous month, the group said Wednesday in an emailed statement.

“The foreign trade account was the main malefactor that pulled the BCI down—month-on-month and year-to-year,” the chamber said. “Less merchandise import volumes and merchandise export volumes contributed to the decline in foreign trade.”

The mood is likely to be dampened further by the emergence last month of the Covid-19 omicron variant that’s prompted more than 90 nations to ban travel to and from South Africa right before its summer holiday season and will likely crimp economic growth in the fourth quarter.

SACCI criticized the manner in which South African scientists announced the detection of the omicron variant.

“The disclosure by South African scientists sparked greater concern and negatively impacted the business climate,” said the chamber. “These announcements should be made with greater circumspection taking account of broader implications. Hopefully the rushed decisions by other countries on travel restrictions will be tempered as more information on the omicron variant emerges.”