Tourists Hurry to S.Africa Airport after Travel Bans
The new Covid-19 variant has so far been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Palestine and Hong Kong.
Anxious-looking passengers thronged Johannesburg International Airport on Friday, desperate to board the last flights to countries that had recently closed their doors to South Africa.
When Britain recently announced that all flights from South Africa and its neighbors would be banned the following day, many people cut their vacation short, rushing back from safaris.
Concerned about the discovery of a new coronavirus variant named Omicron, with a large number of mutations fueling an infection resurgence in South Africa, a flurry of nations have sought to ban travel from South Africa, including the United States and Canada.
The variant has so far been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Palestine's occupied territories, and Hong Kong.
What is the new Covid-19 variant?
South African officials have detected a new variant of the coronavirus, known as B.1.1.529, which they describe as "highly concerning." Fears that a new strain might fuel outbreaks in many countries, put pressure on health systems, and complicate efforts to restore economies and borders drove a wave of risk aversion through global markets, according to a report by Bloomberg.
What’s new about this variant?
According to scientists, B.1.1.529 has a large number of mutations in its spike protein, which plays a role in the virus's entry into cells. It's also what immunizations are designed to combat. Researchers are still attempting to figure out if it's more contagious or deadly than earlier variants.