New COVID variant ‘worst one we’ve seen so far’

Britain is bringing in travel restrictions for six African countries due to a new COVID variant that UK experts have called the “worst one we’ve seen so far”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) is investigating a new variant. More data is needed but we’re taking precautions now.

“Six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travellers must quarantine.”

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‘Our scientists are deeply concerned’: Javid

Mr Javid said the new B.1.1.529 variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain – and warned “the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective”.

The UKHSA says it is the “worst one we’ve seen so far” and has a spike protein that is “dramatically” different to the original COVID strain.

The variant also has 30 mutations – twice as many as the Delta variant – and these mutations are likely to evade the immune response generated by prior infection and vaccination.

But the good news is that B.1.1.529 can be detected with a normal PCR test.

Flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from 12pm on Friday – and after 4am on Sunday, new arrivals in the UK will be required to quarantine in hotels.

No cases of this variant have been reported so far in the UK, and anyone who has travelled from one of these countries in the past 10 days is now being invi

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