The World Health Organization convened a meeting of experts to assess the data from South Africa, where a new version of the coronavirus seem to be behind a recent spike in COVID-19.
Named B.1.1.529, the new mutation is linked to an “exponential rise” of cases in the last few days in South Africa. From just over 200 new confirmed cases per day in recent weeks, the number of cases grew to 2,465 on Thursday.
Global authorities reacted with alarm with the EU and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists sought to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant, reported Reuters. Meanwhile, Singapore and Japan are rushing in stricter quarantine measures and banning flights from South Africa and neighboring countries.
“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,” UKHSA Chief Executive Jenny Harries said.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU also aimed to halt air travel from the region.
From the U.S.A the only direct flight to South Africa is with South African Airways and Delta Air Lines. SAA from New York (JFK) and Washington Dulles. Delta Airlines from Atlanta. Both Air Lines fly to Johannesburg.