Within hours, Britain, Israel and Singapore had restricted travel from South Africa and some neighboring countries, citing the threat of the new variant B.1.1.529.
South African scientists will meet with the World Health Organization technical team on Friday to discuss the new variant.
But governments are not waiting to impose restrictions. By Thursday evening, the UK had banned flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe, starting at noon local time on Friday. The six nations will be added to the country’s red list, which would require British travelers coming from those nations to quarantine on arrival.
Israel has also announced it is barring its citizens from travelling to southern Africa and banning the entry of foreigners from the region.
And on Friday, Singapore announced it would also bar non-resident visitors from 7 African countries, including South Africa.
“From 11.59 pm on Saturday 27 November, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have travelled to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.”
The new variant, dubbed B.1.1.529, has begun to spread across the country. The reason this particular variant is causing so much panic comes down to its genetic make-up.
Researchers say it comes with 32 different mutations and carries several spike proteins, which have made previous strains so problematic.
Meanwhile, the NICD has delivered more worrying news – Covid-19 cases in SA have shot up by 2 465 in the past 24-hours.
The total number of Covid-19 cases that have been accumulatively reported since March 2020 has risen to 2 952 500.
Sadly, over the last 24-hours alone, a further 114 people have died from Covid-19, meaning that a total of 89 771 people have succumbed to the virus since the first death in March 2020.
A total of 2 843 961 have recovered, having tested positive for Covid-19, representing a positivity rate of 6.5%.