Southern Africa’s new Covid-19 variant sparks a wave of travel restrictions

JOHANNESBURG – Dozens of countries on Friday restricted travel to and from South Africa and neighboring countries, in the hopes that a rapidly spreading new variant of the coronavirus which scientists say could be more contagious and make the current crop of Covid-19 vaccines less effective.

Experts from the World Health Organization were set to meet later Friday to decide whether the new strain, currently known as B.1.1.529, should be declared a “variant of concern.” The WHO uses this label for strains of virus that have been shown to be more contagious, cause more serious illness, or reduce the effectiveness of public health measures, tests, treatments or vaccines.

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