Home Headlines Covid variant B.1.1.529 emerges in South Africa: Here’s what we know #englishheadline #Covid #variant #B11529 #emerges #South #Africa #Heres

Covid variant B.1.1.529 emerges in South Africa: Here’s what we know #englishheadline #Covid #variant #B11529 #emerges #South #Africa #Heres

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The World Health Organization on Friday labeled a new heavily mutated strain of Covid-19 a variant of concern.

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” the WHO said in a statement released Friday. “Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs.”

The variant, first known as B.1.1.529 and now named omicron, has been detected in small numbers in South Africa, WHO officials said. However, the number of omicron cases “appears to be increasing” in almost all of South Africa’s provinces, the WHO reported on Friday. The omicron variant has since been found in the U.K., Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong.

Here’s what we know so far:

The U.K. immediately moved to ban flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Zimbabwe from noon Friday to 4 a.m. local time Sunday.

The U.K. Health Security Agency is investigating the variant, which Health Secretary Sajid Javid said is “potentially concerning.” No cases have yet been identified in the U.K., and Javid emphasized that although more data is needed at this early stage, the government had opted to take precautions.

“This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility,” said U.K. HSA Chief Executive Jenny Harries.

Israel has also barred travel to several southern African nations over the new variant, as well as Singapore and other nations. Israel has reported one case of the new variant in a traveler returning from Malawi.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with health experts Friday to discuss the country’s response, which could reportedly include declaring a state of emergency.

Belgium on Friday afternoon became the first European country to report a case of the B.1.1.529 variant.

However, the WHO on Friday cautioned countries against the hasty imposition of travel restrictions. Spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a U.N. briefing in Geneva that governments should take a “risk-based and scientific approach” and stressed that it will take researchers several weeks to understand the variant’s potential impact.

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#Covid #variant #B11529 #emerges #South #Africa #Heres

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