A new Covid 19 variant, with many mutations, emerged on the African continent

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South Africa’s health minister announced Thursday the discovery of a new coronavirus variant which is very contagious, first reported in Botswana earlier this month in vaccinated people. It is currently unclear where the variant , currently dubbed B.1.1.529, first emerged, but appears to be spreading rapidly in parts of the country. The variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 in the key spike protein, the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack. The new variant seems to be the most heavily mutated so far in the outbreak. “This variant did surprise us,” Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the Center for South Africa’s Epidemic Response and Innovation, told media.Officials also expressed concern that the mutation could result in immune evasion.

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At this time, UK officials announced that six African countries will be added to England’s travel “red list,” meaning UK residents and British and Irish nationals arriving home from those points of departure must undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense. The UK “hasn’t detected any of this new variant” in the country yet. South Africa’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic has been complicated, as immuno-compromised people by HIV can harbor the virus for longer, scientists say.World Health Organization officials have met to discuss the virus. South Africa’s government is considering new public-health restrictions.

UPDATE: Europe records first case of Covid Super-mutant in Belgium