Fears about the COVID variant Nu B.1.1529 have prompted global travel restrictions on Southern Africa.


Fears about the COVID variant Nu B.1.1529 have prompted global travel restrictions on Southern Africa.

Travel from southern Africa has been restricted in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, and Israel as fears mount about a new COVID-19 variant with a high number of mutations.

The B.1.1.529 variety, which was first discovered in Botswana, has since been found in South Africa, Hong Kong, and Israel. According to an online tracker, 84 confirmed cases have been recorded thus far.

People are calling B.1.1.529 the “Nu” variety because they expect the World Health Organization to name it as a variant of interest or concern using their Greek alphabet naming scheme. The WHO, on the other hand, has not yet classified Nu as a variation of interest or concern.

Concerns that the strain could elude immunity have prompted nations to impose travel restrictions as part of their efforts to stop it spreading out of the region.

The United Kingdom said on Thursday night that flights from South Africa and five neighboring countries, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, will be temporarily banned beginning at midday on Friday. Returning British travelers have also been subjected to quarantine regulations.

Shortly after the United Kingdom announced the sanctions, Israel followed suit, adding the same countries to its red list, as well as Mozambique. Singapore and Japan announced restrictions on travel from South Africa and adjacent regions on Friday, while Australia and New Zealand stated they are closely monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared on Twitter on Friday that the commission is proposing to activate the emergency brake to restrict air traffic from the southern African region “due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529,” in close consultation with member states.

Her remark comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the EU is already on the rise. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Europe is once again the epicenter of the pandemic, accounting for approximately three-fifths of recent worldwide coronavirus cases.

Despite the limited number of verified cases of the B.1.1.529 variety, Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, warned on Twitter on Wednesday that the situation should be monitored due to the amount of changes in its spike protein. The variation has the greatest number of mutations of any strain discovered. This is a condensed version of the information.


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