Will take weeks to understand new virus variant, says WHO

WION Web Team
Geneva, Switzerland Updated: Nov 26, 2021, 05:39 PM(IST)

People wait to receive a dose of coronavirus vaccine Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Israel announced it had identified the first case of the new virus variant which was discovered in South Africa

Amid growing concern over the new virus variant B.1.1.529, the World Health Organisation(WHO) said it will take several weeks to understand the new variant which was reported by South Africa.

The world health body cautioned against imposing travel restrictions as several countries imposed travel ban on South Africa and its neighbouring countries.

Also Read: What we know about Covid B.1.1.529 or Nu variant, supposedly dangerous than Delta

"Researchers are working to understand more about the mutations and what they potentially mean for how transmissible or virulent this variant is," WHO's spokesperson said.   

The WHO added that travel restrictions should be "risk-based" and countries should follow a "scientific approach".

"Implementing travel measures is being cautioned against," the health body added.

Israel announced it had identified the first case of the new virus variant which was discovered in South Africa with two more suspected cases reported from people returning from abroad. Israel's health ministry said all three people were vaccinated.

According to South African scientists, the new variant showed ten mutations compared to Beta which showed three and Delta which had mutated twice.

Watch: Stocks markets under pressure after new variant emerges

Several countries curbed flights from South Africa with UK, Germany and Italy imposing restrictions.

Also Read: Highly mutated new Covid variant: UK bans 6 African nations' flights

The German government announced those returning from South Africa would have to undergo quarantine even if they are vaccinated as the country battles the fourth wave. 

Italy banned people who visited South Africa including Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.

UK moved to ban flights from six African countries including South Africa. However, South Africa's foreign ministry criticised the move asserting UK's decision was "rushed as even the World Health Organisation is yet to advise on the next steps."

The coronavirus cases in South Africa have surged recently even as experts said it was due to the new variant. 

(With inputs from Agencies)

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