Sumary of Australia investigates new COVID-19 variant found in South Africa:
- Australia on Friday said it was investigating the newly identified COVID-19 variant spreading in South Africa and warned it may close its borders to travelers from the African nation if risks from the new strain rise.
- South African scientists are concerned the new variant could evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible as it has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations.
- Australia Health Minister Greg Hunt said he would swiftly respond if the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies it as a major new variant.
- ”Alarmed by the variant, Britain temporarily banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini from Friday, and asked returning British travelers from those destinations to quarantine.
- The WHO said it would take “a few weeks” to understand the impact of the new variant.
- Australia early this month eased its international border restrictions for the first time during the pandemic allowing fully vaccinated residents to return to the country without quarantine after higher vaccination levels.