‘Our scientists are deeply concerned’

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UK Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javed

UK Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javed Andrew Mathews / Pool / Reuters

  • A new corona virus has been identified in Botswana and South Africa.

  • Named “B.1.1.529”, it contains many variations on scientists and the World Health Organization.

  • The United Kingdom imposed travel bans on six African countries on Thursday following the news.


The UK has added six African countries to its “red” travel list and has temporarily suspended flights over various concerns over a new corona virus.

The announcement was made by the UK’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javed, on Thursday, shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) gave a briefing on a variety called B.1.1.529. He was initially identified in Botswana. Cases have been reported there and in South Africa.

South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Iswatini, and Zimbabwe are on the “red list”, which means there are more travel restrictions for people living in the UK. People who do not live in the UK are not allowed to travel to the UK from these countries.

Javed said the type was not yet known in the UK and its effects were not yet clear. But based on initial indications, it may be more transferable than the Delta variant, and our existing vaccines may be less effective against it.

“Our scientists are deeply concerned about this. I am concerned, of course, that is one of the reasons we took this step,” Javed said during the briefing.

Delta, a species first seen in 2020, currently accounts for 99.9% of new corona virus cases in the United States, according to ABC News. It had a mutation compared to the last strain that helped make it more contagious in terms of competition.

The most advanced type, possibly assigned by the WHO as the Greek code name Delta and the previous dominant alpha variant, has more than 50 mutations in total, and more than 30 on the spike protein. Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, said in a briefing on Thursday.

The variety seems to be responsible for the increase in coronavirus cases in South Africa. At least 100 cases have been confirmed through sampling, which is more than the 10 cases recorded on Wednesday.

After Sunday morning, according to Javed, people traveling from these countries would have to stay in quarantine for 10 days in government-approved hotels. According to the BBC, starting Friday afternoon, the government is suspending all flights from these countries until the hotel quarantine system is in place.

The WHO will meet on Friday to further analyze the situation. Javed emphasized that “we do not yet know enough about the diversity, but we do know that the sanctions are aimed at safeguarding Britain’s progress to date.”

“This is a real reminder to all of us that this epidemic is not over,” he said.

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