The UK has suspended travel of its citizens to six African countries since November 26, and Israel is preparing to impose a ban on travel to South Africa and foreigners from the region due to a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. British experts called the new strain “the worst we’ve seen so far.”
The UK health agency is investigating a new variant of the virus. “More data is required, but we are taking precautions now.” wrote UK Health Minister Sajid Javid on Twitter.
Travel restrictions are being imposed on South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland), Zimbabwe and Namibia, according to the British government. Those residents who arrive in the UK from these countries will need to undergo a ten-day quarantine in hotels.
Anyone who has traveled to one of the above countries in the past 10 days is encouraged to get tested by the government.
So far, no case of the new “African” variant of the coronavirus has been reported in the UK. transfers Interfax.
Israel has also put South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini on the “red list of countries” with the highest risk of COVID-19 infection. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ordered an immediate assessment of the possibility of stopping flights from these countries to Israel and vice versa.
Foreigners from these African countries will be barred from entering Israel, and returning Israelis will be required to undergo quarantine for seven to 14 days at a hotel, even if they are fully vaccinated.
Earlier it was reported that scientists are studying a new strain of coronavirus B.1.1.529 after detecting cases of infection in South Africa and are monitoring the epidemiological situation in the region. A new variant of the coronavirus has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong.
The National Institute for Infectious Diseases (NICD) said that 22 cases of the new strain of coronavirus have already been reported in South Africa. The new variant has a large number of mutations – 32. According to virologists, a large number of virus mutations is “a serious problem.”
Some of the identified mutations indicate a high transmissibility and resistance of the virus to vaccines. It also has more changes in the spike protein by which viruses attach to cells in the body. It is for this protein that most vaccines have been developed that train the immune system to recognize the coronavirus.
Biology professor at University College London geneticist François Ballou believes that the new strain has appeared in the body of a person with weakened immunity, possibly HIV-infected. However, he still sees no reason to consider the new strain more infectious than the previous ones. Scientist opinion leads The Guardian. And Imperial College London virologist Tom Peacock named the combination of mutations in the new variant is “terrifying”. He warned that B.1.1.529 could be scarier than all the coronaviruses known so far.
On November 24, the World Health Organization classified variant B.1.1.529 as under surveillance. This means that this variant has genetic changes that affect the underlying characteristics of the virus.
On November 26, WHO will hold a special meeting due to the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus, said Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the technical team at the WHO’s Emergency Diseases Unit. The organization added that they plan to discuss the effectiveness of existing vaccines in the face of the emergence of a new dangerous variant of infection.
“We do not yet have sufficient information about him. Less than 100 complete genetic sequences are available <...>. However, we know that this strain has many mutations, ”said Van Kerkhove. Her quotes RIA Novosti.
Worldwide, according to the latest data, more than 260 million cases of coronavirus infection have been identified, over 5.2 million cases have died.