New COVID variant detected in South Africa
The UK on Thursday banned flights from six southern African countries due to a new coronavirus variant spreading there.The new variant, called B.1.1.529, has alarmed global health officials as it appears to be more transmissible and may evade vaccines.That’s because its spike protein is dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that the COVID-19 vaccines are based on.Britain’s health secretary said it was important to act fast:“We will be suspending all flights from six southern African countries and we will adding those countries to the travel red list. Those countries are South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Zimbabwe and Botswana. And we will be requiring anyone that arrives from those countries from 4am on Sunday to quarantine in hotels.”“Our scientists are deeply concerned about this variant. I’m concerned, of course, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve taken this action today.”Earlier on Thursday, South African scientists said they had detected the new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and were working to understand its potential implications.The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, but the UK Health Security Agency said no cases of it had been detected in Britain.The World Health Organization is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the new variant.