UK to Place Six African Nations on Travel 'Red List' Over New COVID-19 Variant

© REUTERS / SUMAYA HISHAMFILE PHOTO: A South African Airways aircraft is seen at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg
FILE PHOTO: A South African Airways aircraft is seen at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.11.2021
The United Kingdom is placing South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe on its travel red-list over a new "super-variant" of Covid-19.
The United Kingdom's Health Minister said that beginning at noon on Friday, these six countries will be placed on the red-list, and flights will be temporarily banned while UK travelers retunring from destinations within must quarantine.
The Scottish government has said that self-isolation will be required for all travellers returning from the six African nations place on the UK's red-list.
The newly-discovered Covid variant discovered in South Africa is concerning UK health officials. The new variant has double the mutations of the Delta variant.
According to the UK Health Security Agency, the variant, known as B.1.1.529, has a spike protein that drastically differs from that of the original coronavirus, which all current Covid-19 vaccines are based upon.
Some experts fear the variant could reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines to 30%. The new mutations are, according to reports, likely to evade the immune response generated by prior infection. It also has shown characteristics linked with increased infectivity.
At least 100 cases have been confirmed in South Africa, but the country's health minister believes there are far more cases than are currently reported. The new strain may be officially classified by the World Health Organisation on Friday.
There have yet to be any documented cases in the UK, but cases have been reported in Bostwana and in Hong Kong. Before the travel ban goes into place, more than 500 people enter the UK from South Africa every day.
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