The UK and Israel have respectively imposed new travel restrictions on travelers from some South African countries due to concerns over a new Covid strain known as B.
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British Health Minister Sajid Javid said flights from six countries would be temporarily suspended: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
From Sunday, anyone entering the UK from six countries will have to quarantine in hotels, according to the BBC.
Javid said the new variant “has twice as many mutations as we saw with the delta variant, suggesting that it could be more contagious and that the vaccine could be less effective.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the entry of non-Israeli travelers and residents from six countries: Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini was banned from Israel.
According to the BBC, 59 new strains have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana.
The WHO convened a meeting on Friday to discuss the new strain. South African scientists have discovered about 30 mutations in the spike protein. At the meeting, experts are expected to discuss what this variant might mean for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics. The WHO says it has found a small number of variants in South Africa. WHO’s Covid-19 Technical Director, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said on Thursday that she doesn’t know much about it yet. What we do know is that this variant carries a large number of mutations, and the mutations can affect how the virus behaves.
Covid: Travel restrictions to Africa (BBC) on mutant fears
WHO convenes special meeting in South Africa to discuss new mutant strains of Covid-19 (CNBC)
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