New virus variant emerges in Africa, stokes worldwide fears

People wait to get vaccinated at a shopping mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
1/8Virus Outbreak New VariantPeople wait to get vaccinated at a shopping mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
2/8Virus Outbreak New VariantPeople queue to get vaccinated at a shopping mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
3/8Virus Outbreak New VariantPeople shop in a mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
Keep up to speed at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories
Yahoo News is better in the app

Keep up to speed at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories

4/8Virus Outbreak New VariantA departures screen displays a cancelled flight to Johannesburg and a message to contact the airline for a scheduled flight to Capetown, at London’s Heathrow Airport, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The U.K. announced that it was banning flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday, and that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
5/8Virus Outbreak New VariantA passenger walks through International Arrivals, at London’s Heathrow Airport, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The U.K. announced that it was banning flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday, and that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
6/8Virus Outbreak New VariantPeople wearing masks on an escalator at a shopping mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
Keep up to speed at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories
Yahoo News is better in the app

Keep up to speed at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories

7/8APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Zimbabwe New VariantA mother takes time to rest with her children in Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday, Nov, 26, 2021. A slew of nations have moved to stop air travel from southern Africa, and stocks have plunged in Asia and Europe in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
8/8Virus Outbreak Zimbabwe New VariantA security guard santizes a motorist’s hands, at the entrance of a health facilty in Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday, Nov, 26, 2021. A slew of nations have moved to stop air travel from southern Africa, and stocks have plunged in Asia and Europe in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) /
People wait to get vaccinated at a shopping mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
People queue to get vaccinated at a shopping mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
People shop in a mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
A departures screen displays a cancelled flight to Johannesburg and a message to contact the airline for a scheduled flight to Capetown, at London's Heathrow Airport, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The U.K. announced that it was banning flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday, and that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A passenger walks through International Arrivals, at London's Heathrow Airport, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The U.K. announced that it was banning flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday, and that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
People wearing masks on an escalator at a shopping mall, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Nov. 26, 2021. Advisers to the World Health Organization are holding a special session Friday to flesh out information about a worrying new variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa, though its impact on COVID-19 vaccines may not be known for weeks. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
A mother takes time to rest with her children in Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday, Nov, 26, 2021. A slew of nations have moved to stop air travel from southern Africa, and stocks have plunged in Asia and Europe in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A security guard santizes a motorist's hands, at the entrance of a health facilty in Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday, Nov, 26, 2021. A slew of nations have moved to stop air travel from southern Africa, and stocks have plunged in Asia and Europe in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) /

BRUSSELS (AP) — The discovery of a new coronavirus variant sent a chill through much of the world Friday as nations raced to halt air travel, markets plunged and scientists held emergency meetings to weigh the exact risks, which were largely unknown.

Medical experts, including the World Health Organization, warned against any overreaction before the variant that originated in southern Africa was better understood. But a jittery world feared the worst nearly two years after COVID-19 emerged and triggered a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people around the globe.

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid told lawmakers that the new version may be more transmissible than the delta variant and render vaccines less effective.

“We must move quickly and at the earliest possible moment,” Javid said.

Some nations moved to stop air travel from southern Africa, and stocks plunged in Asia, Europe and the United States. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 800 points at the start of trading. The price of oil plunged 7%.

“The last thing we need is to bring in a new variant that will cause even more problems,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said amid a massive spike in cases in the 27-nation European Union, which recommended a ban on flights from southern African nations.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said flights “should be suspended until we have a clear understanding about the danger posed by this new variant, and travelers returning from this region should respect strict quarantine rules.”

She insisted on extreme caution, warning that “mutations could lead to the emergence and spread of even more concerning variants of the virus that could spread worldwide within a few months.

Belgium became the first European Union country to announce a case of the variant. It involved a person who came from abroad.

“It’s a suspicious variant. We don’t know if it’s a very dangerous variant,” Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said.

Israel, one of the world's most vaccinated countries, announced Friday that it also detected the country’s first case of the new variant in a traveler who returned from Malawi. The traveler and two other suspected cases were placed in isolation. Israel said all three were vaccinated, but officials were looking into the travelers' exact vaccination status.

The new variant immediately stoked fears of more pandemic-related economic turmoil.

“Investors are likely to shoot first and ask questions later until more is known,” said Jeffrey Halley of foreign exchange broker Oanda.

Oil prices plunged, with U.S. crude off 6.7% at $73.22 per barrel and the international Brent benchmark off 5.6% at $77.64, both unusually large moves for a single day. The pandemic caused oil prices to plunge during the initial outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 because travel restrictions reduced demand for fuel.

Airlines shares were hammered, with Lufthansa off 12.4%, IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, off 14.4%, Air France-KLM down 8.9% and easyJet falling 10.9%.

Speaking before the EU announcement, Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of emergencies at the WHO, warned against “knee-jerk responses.”

“We’ve seen in the past, the minute there’s any kind of mention of any kind of variation and everyone is closing borders and restricting travel. It’s really important that we remain open and stay focused,” Ryan said.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed and strongly discouraged any travel bans on countries that reported the new variant. In a statement, it said past pandemic experience has shown that such travel bans have “not yielded a meaningful outcome.”

The U.K. banned flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday and announced that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test.

Germany said its flight ban could be enacted as soon as Friday night. Spahn said flights returning from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens home, and travelers will need to go into quarantine for 14 days whether they are vaccinated or not.

Germany has seen record daily case numbers in recent days and on Thursday surpassed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Italy's health ministry also announced measures to ban entry for anyone who has been in seven southern African nations — South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini — in the past 14 days due. The Netherlands and the Czech Republic planned similar measures.

The Japanese government announced that Japanese nationals traveling from Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho will have to quarantine at government-dedicated accommodations for 10 days and take COVID-19 tests on the third, sixth and tenth days. Japan has not yet opened up to foreign nationals.

The South African government said that the U.K.’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering “seems to have been rushed,” citing the fact that the WHO has yet to recommend next steps.

The coronavirus evolves as it spreads and many new variants, including those with potentially risky mutations, often die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadlier, but sorting out the exact dangers of new variants takes time.

The WHO’s technical working group is to meet Friday to assess the new variant — currently identified as B.1.1.529 — and may decide whether to give it a name from the Greek alphabet. It says coronavirus infections jumped 11% in Europe in the past week, the only region in the world where COVID-19 continues to rise.

The WHO’s Europe director, Dr. Hans Kluge, warned that without urgent measures, the continent could see another 700,000 deaths by the spring.

____

Associated Press writers Lorne Cook in Brussels, Colleen Barry in Milan, Pan Pylas in London, Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Mike Corder in The Hague, Dave McHugh in Frankfurt, Carley Petesch in Dakar, Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

TikTok owner ByteDance tests metaverse-like social network with new app Party Island

ByteDance, owner of short-video sharing app TikTok and its Chinese sibling Douyin, has launched a social app in China that allows users to interact in a virtual community through avatars, ... Read more »

Intel bags major victory in decade-long court battle over its rivalry with AMD

Intel has won an appeal against a penalty worth $1.2 billion handed out twelve years ago in relation to an EU antitrust investigation. The original claim, levelled by the European ... Read more »

A dirty secret: RPA is not designed for process automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has had a lot of deserved success in businesses seeking to carry out basic, repetitive tasks ordinarily handled manually; think about filling out forms, extracting data ... Read more »

Quick - the Apple Watch SE is on sale for just $249 in fantastic deal at Amazon

If you’re looking to pick up a cheap Apple Watch deal, then Amazon has you covered. We’ve just spotted the already affordable Apple Watch SE on sale for just $249 ... Read more »

Real-time comms outage can cost - it's time for a back-up plan

When Facebook suffered its worst outage in its history at the start of October, more than $50bn was wiped off its value in an instant. Not only were billions of ... Read more »

iOS 15.4 brings beans, bubbles, and dozens of other emoji to iPhone

The first iOS 15.4 beta has landed, and while it comes with a number of new features, the most exciting aspect for many iPhone users might be its new emoji. ... Read more »

China to build space centre, more satellites for Pakistan

China on Friday announced plans to boost space cooperation with Pakistan, including the development of a space centre and launching of more satellites for its all-weather ally. Pakistan figures many ... Read more »

Amina Faye death: Parents jailed after baby died with more than 60 broken bones in 'despicable' abuse case

A couple have been jailed after leaving their eight-week-old baby with more than 60 broken bones before she died. Benjamin O'Shea, 26, and Naomi Johnson, 24, claimed paramedics caused the ... Read more »

Honor MWC 2022 event set for February 28: Here's what the company is expected to launch

NEW DELHI: Honor has scheduled the global launch event at the Mobile World Congress 2022 on February 28. The invite shared by the company reads, “oin us at MWC Barcelona ... Read more »

Epic Games to continue giving free games in 2022

Fortnite developer Epic Games has confirmed that it will continue to give games away in 2022.Some of the games Epic has offered in the past have been quite notable, including ... Read more »

Theresa May weighs in on Boris Johnson Partygate scandal - 'Nobody is above the law'

Former prime minister Theresa May said, like the public, she was “angry” to hear reports of suspected rule-breaking in Number 10. (PA Images) Theresa May has weighed in on the ... Read more »

Sir David Attenborough spiked by cactus on The Green Planet

The Teddy Bear Cholla cactus has the ultimate protection – a fuzzy coating of vicious spines, and Sir David Attenborough found out the hard way when filming The Green Planet ... Read more »

Team GB's biggest medal prospects at Beijing Winter Olympics

Team GB will take a squad of 50 athletes to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, with an expected medal range of between three and seven which could conceivably deliver the ... Read more »

Sally Lindsay on being inspired by Reese Witherspoon and female trailblazers, co-parenting with her husband Steve White, and working hard to make a name for herself on Coronation Street

Kate chats to trailblazing actor, producer and writer Sally Lindsay about being the Reese Witherspoon of the North, her marriage to drummer Steve White, and working hard to prove herself ... Read more »

Boris Johnson reportedly considering delay to tax hike plans as public awaits publication of Sue Gray report

Boris Johnson is reportedly considering a delay to plans to raise national insurance as the wait goes on for the publication of Sue Gray’s inquiry into partygate allegations. Read more »

Spotify removes Neil Young after Joe Rogan ultimatum

Spotify has removed Neil Young’s music after he condemned the platform for spreading Covid misinformation on their most popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Read more »

Good Morning Britain cut short over burka comments

Kate Garraway cut short a debate over ‘cancel culture’ when guest Leo Kearse claimed that women in burkas ‘look like letterboxes’. Read more »

ONS debunks ‘spurious' Covid deaths claim shared by David Davis

Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters Claims shared on social media, including by the former Brexit secretary David Davis, that the true number of deaths in England and Wales caused by Covid could ... Read more »

Fastrack Reflex Vox smartwatch with 10 days battery life launched: Price, features and more

NEW DELHI: Fastrack Reflex Vox smartwatch is official in India. Fastrack has expanded its smart wearable lineup with the launch of Fastrack Reflex Vox smartwatch. The smartwatch comes with a ... Read more »

MeitY, Nasscom launch enterprise innovation challenge to help meet ESG goals

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Centre of Excellence (CoE) for IoT & AI, in collaboration with KITS (Karnataka Innovation & Technology Society) and IT industry’s apex body ... Read more »

Google-Airtel partnership will help co-create India-specific use cases for 5G: Telecom analyst, Motilal Oswal Financial Services

Google will invest as much as $ 1 billion in India’s second-largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel. Google will pay $700 million (Rs 734 per share) for a 1.28 per cent ... Read more »

Nothing Technologies appoints new design head

Nothing Technologies, the venture of OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, on Friday announced that it has appointed Adam Bates as Design Director of the brand.ABates spent over 14 years at Dyson ... Read more »

Google Play introduces 'Offers' tab

Google Play is introducing a new “Offers” tab in the app to help users discover deals in games and apps across travel, shopping, media and entertainment, fitness and more.The rollout ... Read more »

‘I can't just take any job': Universal credit claimants express anger at DWP ‘get any job now' policy

Caitlin Yeung, 24, who found a job while claiming universal credit through one of the government’s Kickstart schemes, said the policy change ‘doesn’t make sense’ (Kickstart) Universal credit claimants are ... Read more »

Be still my aching heart: Nissan's releasing an electric Micra

Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi just announced their — we’re talking about 35 new EVs, fresh factories, and eye watering investments. But there’s one bit of news that’s more important than ... Read more »

Bexley Audi driver fined more than £800 after speeding over 30mph

An Audi driver from Bexley was caught speeding An Audi driver has been fined more than £800 after exceeding a 30mph speed limit in Eltham. Abaz Domi was caught speeding ... Read more »

And Just Like That viewers call out ‘tone deaf' and ‘disgusting' joke in episode that aired on Holocaust Memorial Day

Viewers are appalled to see a Holocaust denier featured in an episode of And Just Like That, which was broadcast on Holocaust Memorial Day. The penultimate episode of the Sex ... Read more »

Surfshark founder reveals ties to NordVPN and Tesonet

As with many privately owned VPN providers, popular VPN provider Surfshark has remained coy about its ownership or corporate structure. However, in a first, Surfshark CEO and founder Vytautas Kaziukonis ... Read more »

Windows Update hijacked to infect PCs with malware

Lazarus, a known cybercrime group with ties to the North Korean government, has managed to abuse the Windows Update Client to distribute malware, cybersecurity researchers from Malwarebytes have found. In ... Read more »

iPhone owners could soon be able to use Face ID while wearing a mask

iPhone owners could soon be able to use Face ID while still wearing their masks. Apple launched the first developer beta for iOS 15.4, which provides an opportunity to test ... Read more »

Federal judge cites climate impact in revoking Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale

The judge said the Biden administration failed to consider the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the sale. Read more »

Invisible machine-readable labels that identify and track objects

An MIT team develops 3D-printed tags to classify and store data on physical objects. Read more »

Ms. Marvel on Disney Plus: everything we know so far

Ms. Marvel is gearing up to bring more, well, suitably named superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Like Captain Marvel before her, Ms. Marvel’s heroic pseudonym isn’t one of ... Read more »

Families press Snap to do more to curtail fentanyl sales to teens, saying recent changes don't do enough

Amy Neville looked out through her sunglasses to a crowd of more than two dozen parents and activists that had gathered outside Snap, Inc.’s Santa Monica headquarters last Friday to ... Read more »

This is how next Apple AirPods Pro may look like

Apple is rumoured to launch the AirPods Pro 2 later this year. Although the tech giant is not known to reveal any detail about its upcoming products, leaks around the ... Read more »

Epic Games Store confirms it'll keep giving away free games during 2022

Epic Games Store will continue to give away freebies throughout 2022, it has been confirmed, in case you may have thought otherwise. The news came as Epic presented its usual ... Read more »

Here's how you can get free edition upgrades to Hitman 3

On the PC platform, Hitman 3 was originally exclusively launched on the Epic Games Store and stayed that way for about a year. Then, I/O Interactive, the developers of the ... Read more »

Lenovo Legion Y90 gaming smartphones gets listed on TENAA: Expected specs

Lenovo Legion Y90, the upcoming gaming phone from Lenovo has been spotted on the TENAA website, as per a report by GizChina. The company will launch the gaming phone in ... Read more »

Tiny materials lead to a big advance in quantum computing

Using ultrathin materials to reduce the size of superconducting qubits may pave the way for personal-sized quantum devices. Read more »

HP wins $5 billion fraud lawsuit against UK software tycoon

Tech giant HP won a multibillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against a British businessmen it accused of fraud after purchasing his software company Autonomy a decade ago. The decision by the U.K.’s ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic