Health and Medicine

Announcement of new virus variant alarms world, as stocks crash and flights are banned

A new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant, with an unusual number of mutations, had scientists sounding the alarm Friday and countries including the United States moving to impose travel restrictions as the world feared another setback on the long road out of the pandemic.

Senior Biden administration officials announced that starting Monday, travel to the United States will be restricted from South Africa and seven other countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The new policy, which does not affect U.S. citizens and permanent residents, was enacted “out of an abundance of caution,” officials said, as scientists work to learn more about the new variant.

This latest variant arrives nearly two years after the first ominous warnings about a novel coronavirus that emerged from China. Now, even as the world grows increasingly weary of measures to contain the virus, this new threat is casting a shadow across holiday celebrations.

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