As the number of cases in South Africa approaches 100, UK experts are debating travel restrictions.


As the number of cases in South Africa approaches 100, UK experts discuss travel restrictions.

The World Health Organization will decide whether the new variant should be classified as “of concern” and given the name Nu

Following the confirmation of around 100 cases of the super-variant in South Africa, senior medical experts in the UK are debating possible travel restrictions for the country, i has learned.

Separately, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss whether the new covid strain, B1.1.529, should be upgraded to a variant of interest or even a variant of concern, with the potential new label Nu.

The variant was discovered in South Africa, Botswana, and two travelers in Hong Kong who had recently returned from South Africa, as first reported by i on Wednesday.

Although no cases have been confirmed in the United Kingdom, officials are concerned because of the variant’s high number of mutations (32), as well as its profile, which could make vaccines less effective.

In light of the high number of cases in that country and its ability to evade vaccines, UK health officials are debating whether to impose additional quarantine restrictions on travellers to and from South Africa.

The variant is of “serious concern,” according to South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla, and is responsible for an “exponential” increase in reported cases in the country, making it “a major threat.”

The variant was discovered in a handful of genome samples on Tuesday by Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, but due to its nature, scientists and governments all over the world have scrambled to assess its threat in the last 48 hours.

The number and profile of 32 spike mutations, many of which could evade the jabs, were described by Dr. Peacock as “horrific” and “worse antigenically than nearly anything else about.”

South African health officials said on Thursday that nearly 100 cases of the variant had been discovered in Gauteng province, but that it was likely to have spread further across the country.

Botswana has four cases, while Hong Kong has two.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, a South African expert, believes the strain “may already be present in most provinces” and that “many more” cases will emerge “by tomorrow [Friday].”

Dr. Maria van Kerkhove is a medical doctor who practices in the Netherlands.

News summary from Infosurhoy in the United Kingdom.

As the number of cases in South Africa approaches 100, UK experts are debating travel restrictions.

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Covid super-variant: UK experts discuss travel restrictions to South Africa as cases climb towards 100

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