The British government decided on Thursday night to impose travel restrictions on six South African countries due to concerns about the new coronavirus B.1.1529.
Health Minister Sajid Javid announced via Twitter that the UK Health and Safety Agency is investigating the new mutation that was originally found in Botswana.
"Our scientists are deeply concerned about this mutation...the vaccines we currently have may be less effective"
"More information is needed, but we are taking precautionary measures now. "Six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned and British travelers will have to be quarantined," Mr. Javid wrote.
He said: "Our scientists are deeply concerned about this mutation", as it may be more contagious than the prevailing Delta mutation and warned that "the vaccines we currently have may be less effective".
Flights to the UK from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from 12 noon local on Friday. Moreover, from 4 am on Sunday Britons traveling from these countries must be quarantined for ten days at a designated hotel.
Those in the United Kingdom who have traveled from these countries in the last ten days are invited to undergo a molecular diagnostic test.
According to scientists, the variant carries more than 30 mutations, which makes it theoretically more contagious and more resistant to vaccines.
The UK Health and Safety Service said the variant was "the worst ever detected", with the spike protein used by the coronavirus to penetrate the human body being "dramatically" different from that of the original strain of the virus.
A total of 59 cases have been confirmed in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong.