Source: New York Times
- 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.