“UKHSA [UK Health Security Agency] is investigating a new variant. More data is needed but we're taking precautions now. From noon tomorrow six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travellers must quarantine,” Javid tweeted.
Arrivals from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days and pay for the stay.
The new variant, B.1.1.529, was first identified Nov. 11 in Botswana.
“The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it," Javid was quoted in the media.
“We’ve got plans in place, as people know, for the spread of this infection here in the UK and we have contingency plans – the so-called Plan B.
“But today’s announcement, this is about a new variant from South Africa -- it’s been detected in South Africa and Botswana -- and this is about being cautious and taking action and trying to protect, as best we can, our borders.”
World Health Organization officials will meet Friday with South African officials to assess the situation.