Leading scientists have called for immediate “code red” international travel restrictions following reports that a
new Covid-19 variant is driving a surge in cases in southern Africa.
The variant, which was only identified on Tuesday, initially sparked concern because it carries an “extremely high number” of mutations that could allow it to evade immunity. The latest data, presented by South African scientists on Thursday, revealed the variant also appears to be more transmissible and is already present in provinces throughout the country.
Ewan Birney, the deputy director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and a member of Spi-M, which advises the UK government, called for urgent “code red” – or “red list-type” – travel restrictions to be placed on southern Africa while the new variant’s transmissibility is investigated, saying it posed a risk of the pandemic regaining momentum.
He urged countries not to repeat the mistake of failing to act quickly. “What we’ve learnt from the other situations like this – some have turned out OK and some haven’t – is that whilst we’re [investigating] you have to be reasonably paranoid,” he said.
The new strain, B.1.1.529, was identified after a surge of cases in Gauteng, an urban area containing Pretoria and Johannesburg. Initially the cluster of cases, centred on a university, was assumed to be due to an increase in socialising.
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2021/nov/25/covid-news-live-germany-death-toll-passes-100000-vaccines-giving-people-false-sense-of-security-who-says?page=with:block-619fd69e8f08de86f451b3b3237