As a 'precautionary measure', US to restrict travel over fears of new COVID-19 variant

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 27, 2021, 07:47 AM(IST)

US to restrict travel over fears of new COVID-19 variant Photograph:( Reuters )

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This comes in after various countries - the UK, France, Scotland, Italy, Israel, Phillippines, Canada, have banned travellers from southern Africa over fears of the new variant

Global authorities are taking precautions for curbing the spread of a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, with several imposing travel curbs and tightening border controls. Joining the European Union, recently the US will be restricting travel from South Africa and seven other southern African countries, including, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. Starting from Monday, only US citizens and residents will be allowed to travel from the region.

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US President Joe Biden, in a statement, deemed it as a "precautionary measure." He further said that moving forward he will be “guided by what the science and my medical team advises.”

This comes in after various countries - the UK, France, Scotland, Italy, Israel, Phillippines, Canada, have banned travellers from southern Africa over fears of the new variant. 

The World Health Organisation classified the new coronavirus strain detected in South Africa as a "variant of concern," naming it as Omicron.

Also read | New threat? Here's what we know about Covid B.1.1.529 or Nu variant, likely deadlier than Delta

"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, named Omicron," it said.

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” the WHO said, adding, "preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant as compared to other variants of concern."

B.1.1.529 has shown 50 mutations. 30 of these mutations are on the spike protein alone. 

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines in use target the spike protein. The virus uses spike protein to gain access to our body cells. More mutations of the spike protein means better ability for the virus to break vaccine protection.

(With inputs from agencies)

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