South Africa detects a new variant, prompting new international travel restrictions.

Source: New York Times

By Lynsey Chutel, Andrés R. Martínez and Mike Ives

  • Published Nov. 25, 2021

Scientists in South Africa on Thursday identified a concerning new coronavirus variant with mutations that one scientist said marked a “big jump in evolution,” prompting several countries to quickly limit travel from the region.

Within hours, Britain, Israel and Singapore had restricted travel from South Africa and some neighboring countries, citing the threat of the new variant. By Friday, markets were down in Japan in response to the discovery, and officials in Australia and in New Zealand said that they were monitoring the new variant closely.

The European Commission will also propose restricting air travel to the bloc from southern Africa based on concerns over the variant, Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, said in a Twitter post on Friday. She referred to it by its scientific name, B.1.1.529.

In the past two days, scientists detected the variant after observing an increase in infections in South Africa’s economic hub surrounding Johannesburg. So far, 22 positive cases have been identified in the country, according to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Two cases were detected in Hong Kong, both apparently linked to someone who had traveled from South Africa. No cases have been detected yet in Britain.

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2 replies

  1. Sixty-one people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa have tested positive for Covid-19, Dutch officials say.

    They have been placed in isolation at a hotel near Schiphol airport.

    They were among some 600 passengers held for several hours after arrival while they were tested for the virus.

    The Dutch authorities are carrying out further testing to see if there are any cases of Omicron, named on Friday as a variant of concern by the WHO.

    The variant was first reported to the World Health Organization in South Africa on 24 November.

    In the last few hours many countries around the world have restricted travel from the southern African region.

    Meanwhile the Netherlands is one of several European countries struggling to contain record numbers of infections.

    A partial lockdown will be extended on Sunday, with all hospitality and cultural venues forced to close between 17:00 and 05:00, at least until 19 December.

    • Did they not need to be tested before flying? In Indonesia we need a negative test result just to enter the airport.

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