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Europe and Asia, alarmed by COVID variant, start to tighten borders By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Healthcare employees help sufferers being handled at a makeshift hospital run by charity organisation The Gift of the Givers, throughout the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 11, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisha

LONDON (Reuters) -European and Asian nations tightened journey curbs on Friday after a brand new and presumably vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant was detected in South Africa, with the EU, Britain and India amongst these asserting stricter border controls.

Britain banned flights from South Africa and neighbouring nations and requested British travellers getting back from there to quarantine, whereas European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen mentioned the EU additionally aimed to halt air journey from the area.

Scientists are nonetheless studying concerning the variant, first recognized on the start of this week, however the news pummelled world and oil amid fears what new journey bans would do to already shaky economies throughout southern Africa.

The variant has a spike protein that’s dramatically completely different to the one within the unique coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are primarily based on, the UK Health Security Agency mentioned, elevating fears about how present vaccines, profitable in opposition to the extra acquainted delta variant, will fare.

“As scientists have described, (this is) the most significant variant they’ve encountered to date,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps instructed Sky News.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is to maintain a gathering in Geneva at 1100 GMT. Experts will focus on the dangers it presents and if it needs to be designated as a variant of curiosity or variant of concern, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier mentioned.


Nearly 100 sequences of the variant have been reported, and early evaluation exhibits it has “a large number of mutations” requiring additional examine, Lindmeier mentioned.

One epidemiologist mentioned it could be too late to tighten journey curbs.

“I think we have to recognise that most likely this virus is already in other places. And so if we shut the door now, it’s going to be probably too late,” mentioned Ben Cowling of the University of Hong Kong.

South Africa will converse to British authorities to strive to get them to rethink their ban, the international ministry in Pretoria mentioned.

“Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries,” Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor mentioned in a press release.

The variant, known as B.1.1.529, has additionally been present in Botswana and Hong Kong, in accordance to the UK Health Security Agency.

India issued an advisory to all states to take a look at and display screen worldwide travellers from South Africa and different “at risk” nations after easing a few of its journey restrictions earlier this month. Singapore’s well being ministry mentioned it could additionally prohibit arrivals from the area.

Italy imposed an entry ban on individuals who have visited southern African states within the final 14 days, and Germany will declare South Africa a virus variant space, a well being ministry supply mentioned.

“Fear has gripped the financial markets with the travel industry flying into another violent storm,” mentioned Susannah Streeter, senior funding and markets analyst with Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:).


European nations had already been increasing booster vaccinations and tightening curbs because the continent battles a fourth wave of the coronavirus, led by the delta variant, with many reporting file day by day rises in circumstances.

The new wave comes as Europe and the United States enter winter, with extra individuals gathering indoors within the run-up to Christmas, offering an ideal breeding floor for an infection.

The coronavirus has swept the world within the two years because it was first recognized in central China, infecting nearly 260 million individuals and killing 5.4 million.

Japan additionally tightened border controls for guests from South Africa and 5 different African nations, the Jiji news service reported. Its international ministry didn’t instantly reply to a Reuters request for remark.

Taiwan mentioned travellers from “high-risk” southern African nations may have to go into quarantine.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mentioned the nation was nicely ready for the brand new variant, days after saying it could reopen its borders to totally vaccinated worldwide travellers from April 30.

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