Due to the rising of a new coronavirus variant from South Africa that is said to beat vaccines, the United Kingdom will impose new travel restrictions starting yesterday (Friday).
Direct flights from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia will be temporarily banned.
Furthermore, the UK and Irish residents arriving from the mentioned countries will have additional quarantine and testing requirements.
According to the UK Health Security Agency, based on the report of CNN Philippines, it said that the B.1.1.529 variant has potentially biologically significant mutations. This may change the virus's behavior with regards to vaccines, treatments, and transmissibility. Although, it said more investigation is required.
World Health Organization COVID-19 response technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said the B.1.1.529 variant "has a large number of mutations."
"The concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves. Right now, researchers are getting together to where these mutations are and what that potentially mean for our diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines," she said.
However, WHO clarified that they have not yet identified if the B.1.1.529 is a variant of interest or of concern.
Based on the report from South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases, it reported that there are 22 cases of the new variant as of Thursday.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first discovered in Botswana. It was also detected in a traveler in Hong Kong who recently went to South Africa.