New COVID Strain Found in Africa: EU Demands Suspension of Air Traffic

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Following Israel and the UK, Germany and Italy stop air traffic with several African countries, where a new strain of coronavirus was detected. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called for an emergency stop of air traffic with these states for all EU members, reports It is known that the new strain has already penetrated beyond the continent: a tourist who arrived from South Africa fell ill in Hong Kong. Sajid Javid, UK Minister of Health: “Our scientists are very concerned about this variant, and I am, of course, concerned as well. For this reason, we are taking such measures. I can say that we don’t know enough about this strain, no one does.” The new variant was first identified in Botswana and South Africa, – it was reported on Thursday. It was given the name B.1.1.529. According to scientists, it contains many times more mutations than already known strains. This means that it may be more contagious and less resistant to existing vaccines. Joseph Phaahla, South African Minister of Health: “Over the weekend, scientists will study this variant better and give us more information, we will be able to prepare better. But based on the experience of the last 20 months, we can roughly predict how things will unfold. Considering, for example, how delta has been spreading in Gauteng, we can be sure that when people start moving even more in the next few weeks, it will all be over.” Experts from the World Health Organization are conveying an emergency meeting on Friday, where they will decide how dangerous the new variant can be and whether to assign the next letter of the Greek alphabet to it. Point