Wednesday, 23 December 2020 18:48

Staff Reporter.

Photo Credit:123RF/Anyaberkut

Britain on Wednesday introduced restrictions on travel from South Africa over the spread of another new variant of coronavirus, UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said.

The restrictions, which applied with immediate effect, were introduced following the discovery of two cases of the virus variant in Britain.

"This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK," Hancock said, referring to a variant of the virus discovered in Britain which has also been found to be more contagious.

The health minister said that all individuals in the UK who had contracted the variant originating in South Africa had been placed in quarantine as well as their close contacts.

In addition to the travel restrictions, Hancock said the government was also asking anyone who has been in close contact with someone who had been in South Africa in the last two weeks to quarantine.

"They must restrict all contact with any other person whatsoever, "he said.

The discovery of cases of what officials believe is a new, more transmissible variant of the coronavirus in the UK follows the announcement last week that a new variant had spread throughout the south of England.

In response to the growing number of coronavirus cases, Britain ordered a series of coronavirus restrictions across the affected areas.

More than 50 nations also imposed their own travel restrictions on the UK, including France.

Britain is already battling to curb the spread of a mutated strain of the virus which is up to 70% more transmissible, and Hancock said the new variant appeared to have mutated further and was more infectious.

He also said immediate restrictions was being imposed on travel from South Africa.

With more than 68,000 deaths from the virus, the United Kingdom is one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe.