Europe and Asia are shocked by the new coronavirus variants and begin to tighten their borders Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 11, 2021, medical staff assisted patients receiving treatment in a temporary hospital run by the charity organization The Gift of the Givers. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisha

LONDON (Reuters)-European and Asian countries tightened travel restrictions on Friday following the discovery of a potentially drug-resistant variant of the new coronavirus in South Africa. Among them, the European Union, the United Kingdom and India announced stricter border controls.

UK flights from South Africa and neighboring countries are banned And requested British travelers returning from there to be quarantined, and the European Commission President Ursula von der Lein said that the European Union also intends to stop air travel from the region.

Scientists are still learning about the variant, which was first discovered earlier this week, but the news caused a sensation worldwide -2021-11-26stocks and concerns about the impact of the new travel ban on the already shaky economy of Southern Africa.

The UK Health and Security Agency stated that the spike protein of this variant is completely different from the spike protein in the original coronavirus on which the COVID-19 vaccine is based. This raises concerns about how current vaccines can successfully fight the more familiar delta variant. .

“As described by scientists, (this is) the most important variant they have encountered so far,” British Transport Minister Grant Sharps told Sky News.

The World Health Organization (WHO) will hold a meeting on Greenwich Standards in Geneva Time 1100. WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said that experts will discuss the risks it poses and whether it should be designated as a variant of concern or a variant of concern.

Is it too late to tighten restrictions?

Lindmeier said that nearly 100 variant sequences have been reported, and early analysis indicated that it has “a large number of mutations” that requires further study.

An epidemiologist said that it may be too late to tighten travel restrictions.

Ben Cowling of the University of Hong Kong said: “I think we have to realize that this virus may already exist elsewhere. Therefore, if we close the door now, it may be too late.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pretoria stated that South Africa will talk to the British authorities to try to get them to reconsider their ban.

Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in a statement: “Our top priority is that this decision will cause damage to the tourism industry and businesses of both countries.”

According to the British Health and Security Agency, this variant named B.1.1.529 was also found in Botswana and Hong Kong.

After relaxing some travel restrictions earlier this month, India issued a recommendation to all states requiring testing and screening of international travelers from South Africa and other “at risk” countries. The Ministry of Health of Singapore stated that it will also restrict immigration from the region.

According to sources from the Ministry of Health, Italy has imposed entry bans on people who have visited southern African countries in the past 14 days, and Germany will declare South Africa as a virus mutation area.

“As the tourism industry plunges into another violent storm, fear has enveloped the financial markets,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and market analyst. Hargreaves Lansdowne (LON:).

Christmas worries

As the European continent fights the fourth wave of coronavirus led by the delta variant, European countries have expanded and strengthened vaccination and tightened containment measures, and many countries have reported daily increases in cases.

As Europe and the United States enter winter, more and more people gather indoors on Christmas Eve, which provides a perfect breeding ground for infection.

Since the new coronavirus was first discovered in central China, it has swept the world over the past two years, infecting nearly 260 million people and causing 5.4 million deaths.

According to the Jiji News Agency, Japan has also tightened border controls on tourists from South Africa and five other African countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Taiwan said that travelers from “high-risk” countries in southern Africa must be quarantined.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that the country is fully prepared for the new variants. A few days later, the country said that it will reopen its borders on April 30 to provide vaccines to those who have been vaccinated. Open to international travelers.

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