November 26, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

A new variant causing COVID-19 cases to skyrocket in South Africa has caused the two countries to ban travel from that nation and surrounding countries.

The new variant has a high number of mutations and has seen cases in South Africa go from under 400 new cases to over 2,400 daily cases in the last 10 days.

The UK is banning flights from six countries in the region, while Israel is banning travel to and from the same six countries.

“The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it,” said the UK’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

The new variant was identified on Tuesday but has already been found in Hong Kong.

Australia’s Health Minister has confirmed there are no plans to ban travel from South Africa at this stage but said he has asked Australia’s Chief Medical Officer to review the status of the new variant. Under current state arrangements there are quarantine-free arrivals of fully vaccinated returning Australians into NSW and Victoria.