(CMR) Days after a new variant of COVID-19 was discovered in the UK, another new variant of the virus has been identified in South Africa, prompting several countries to ban flights from there.
This variant is blamed for the new surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.
However, this new variant, which shares similar mutation features to the new variant discovered in the UK, is believed to have emerged independently.
South Africa's health minister, Zweli Mkhize, said scientists were working to learn more about the virus, which appeared to be linked to higher rates of severe illness in younger people.
While this new variant's full strength is not yet determined, epidemiologists said that death rates could rise if the new variant spreads with a speed that overwhelms healthcare systems.
Two cases of this new variant linked to South Africa have been detected in the UK. On Wednesday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that anyone who traveled to South Africa in the last two weeks was required to quarantine immediately.
Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are among the countries that have imposed travel bans to and from South Africa.
This week, more than 40 countries ban travel from the UK after a new variant that was 70 % more transmissible was identified.
South Africa has recorded 940,000 cases of Covid-19, with almost 25,000 deaths, according to official statistics.