South Africa’s new Covid-19 strain calls for golf of Travel Restrictions

JOHANNESBURG — Dozens of countries limited travel to and from South Africa and neighboring countries Friday, in the hope to contain An fast-spread new variant of the coronavirus that’s what scientists can say more contagious and can cause the current crop of Covid-19 vaccines less effective.

World Health Organization experts would meet later Friday to decide of the new deformationcurrently known as B.1.1.529 – a “variant” of care.” The WHO uses this label for virus strains that have been proven to more contageous, lead until more severe disease of decrease the effectiveness of public-health measures, tests, treatments of vaccines.

other variants of concerns include: the Delta variant that’s dominant now world-wide and the Alpha variant die drove a deadly golf of infections in all of Europe and the US last winter and spring.

Lockdowns, vaccine requirements and travel restrictions have crossed Europe rising Covid infections and concerns over a variant first detected in South Africa, met the emphasis on new challenges forward for the US as civil servants want until avoid more closures.

While scientists say they’re still figuring out out the exact effects of the more than 50 mutations die they have identified in the new variant, it has a sharp rise in infections in South Africa over the past two weeks, albeit from very low levels. It has also detected in Botswana and in two travelers in Hong-Kong. Israel, one of the countries die limited travel from southern Africa, said Friday it had identified the B.1.1.529 variant in a traveler from Malawi and was researching of the also infected two others.

In a meeting with the Ministry of Health and experts, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the country was on the edge of a state of emergency after detection of the new variant. “U.S highest principle currently is to act fast, strong and now,” he said.

Concerns over the variant triggered An to sell in global shares and South Africa’s fringe currency, and has prompted some airlines to cancel flights.

The discovery of the variant highlights the risks of a developing virus to the world’s emergence of pandemic. Experts say high levels of transfer give the virus de chance to develop mutations die making more dangerous, also due to persistent infection in patients with a suppressed immune system system.


BioNTech SE,

die developed one of the most commonly used Covid-19 vaccines together with

Pfizer Inc.,

said it would take about two weeks to establish of the new variant makes his shot less effective. If necessary, a BioNTech spokeswoman said, the companies would new vaccine adjusted to every variant in six weeks and ship the first batches within 100 days.

Data from the National Institute of South Africa for Communicable Diseases shows how the new variant over the past two weeks fast busy out the easily transferable Delta variant. It makes now up about 90% of infections in the most populous province of the country, home to its political and economic capitals of Pretoria and Johannesburg.

During the same period, cases of COVID-19 in the country of 60 million people multiplied by about 300 just over two weeks ago to 2,465 on Thursday. Although that is a much lower number than the seen in many Europeans countries currently, scientists and the South African Ministry of Health said they were alarmed by the fast scatter of the new variant as well as the unusually high number of mutations.

The European Union said on Friday it would propose activating an “emergency brake” to stop air travel between the 27 country bloc and the south of Africa region, citing concern over B.1.1.529. Several Member States have already moved to impose restrictions, following UK and various parts of Asia, including Singapore.

The B.1.1.529 variant has: more than 50 mutations compared with the coronavirus that was first detected in wuhan, china, in 2019. More than 30 of die mutations are in the spike protein, through which the virus attaches to human cells and that the main target of the current crop of Covid19 vaccines.

Multiple countries announced travel restrictions from southern Africa after warnings over a new Covid-19 variant.


Leon Neal/Getty Images

while many of these mutations appear to be new, several are known to scientists from other variants of concern, where they seemed to create the virus more contageous of let it dodge parts of the immune response triggered by vaccination of a previous Covid-19 infection. Botswana’s government said Thursday that all four infections with B.1.1.529 it had been detected in people who were fully vaccinated and pre-tested of planned trip.

In contrast to with most other prominent variants, die can only be identified by time-consuming and costly genome sequencing, the presence of B.1.1.529 is highlighted in some of the commonly used polymerase chain reaction of PCR tests. That makes it easier follow and is one of the reasons why South African scientists in were able to pick up on to be fast scatter in the country so fast.

The international travel restrictions just for the holiday season – mee with the prospect of new domestic public- health measures to prevent the spread of the new variant—are a painful setback for South Africa, whose economy and population have been hit hard due to the coronavirus.

Excess deaths, which experts say paint a better picture of the toll of the virus on the country than the official number of Covid-19 deaths because of low test rates, have exceeded 272,000 since the start of the pandemic, one of the highest per capita in the world. South Africa’s economy, most developed on the continent, shrank 6.4% last year and the official unemployment rate above 34%.

write to Gabriele Steinhauser at [email protected]

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