The United Kingdom has banned travelers from six African countries after the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant. The new variant -described by scientists as “worse than nearly anything else about“- has been discovered in South Africa.
As a result, the United Kingdom adds six African countries onto the red list: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe. All flights towards these countries will be suspended, and all British travelers returning to the U.K. will be quarantined.
While the number of cases identified is currently small – just 82 at the time of writing, according to local experts – it has a high number of concerning mutations that could allow the virus to evade vaccines and spark further waves of disease.
“I would definitely expect it to be poorly recognized by neutralizing antibodies relative to Alpha or Delta,” UCL Genetics Institute director Francois Balloux told The Guardian. “It is difficult to predict how transmissible it may be at this stage.”
Read more: New COVID-19 Variant May Be “Worse Than Nearly Anything Else About” Warn Scientists (IFLscience!)
Update: Israel bans travel from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini due to new coronavirus variant