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The UK government is taking decisive precautionary action against a new COVID-19 variant by introducing travel restrictions on arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

  • From midday Friday 26 November, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia will be added to the UK’s travel red list
  • Passengers arriving from 4am Sunday in England will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days
  • British nationals arriving from these six countries between midday Friday and 4am Sunday, and who have been in these countries within the last 10 days, must quarantine at home for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on day 2 and day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test booking
  • Direct flights from the 6 countries will be banned from midday Friday until hotel quarantine is up and running from 4am Sunday 28 November
  • Precautionary move follows designation of a new variant under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)

It comes as Variant B.1.1.529 is declared a variant under investigation (VuI) by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. More investigation is required.

Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive, said:

Scientists at UKHSA are in constant close collaboration with colleagues around the world to identify and assess variants as soon as they emerge. This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility. The results of these investigations will determine what public health actions may limit the impact of B.1.1.529.

This is a clear reminder to everyone that this pandemic is not over, and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to limit transmission and reduce the infection rate and prevent the emergence of new variants. This means coming forward for vaccination as soon as possible and following public health advice. Wear a face covering in crowded places where it’s difficult to avoid coming into close contact with others, try to meet people in well-ventilated areas and seek a test immediately if you have symptoms.
FTSE 100 Stocks taking a battering Friday morning (10:45am)
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Oil was trading 6% lower.

Crypto currencies were also taking a battering
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