South Africa may be added to the red travel warning list TOMORROW. Number 10 has been warned about super-mutant Botswana Covid variant. This mutation is believed to have caused an ‘exponential’ increase in infection rates and could render current vaccines less efficient by at least 40%.

  • UK Health Security Agency said B.1.1.529 has more than 30 mutations — most ever recorded in a variant
  • It could have more resistance to vaccines and be transmissible as a combination of different strains than the previous version.
  • Caused an ‘exponential’ rise in cases in South Africa, already spread to three countries – including Hong Kong


South Africa may be added to the red travel warning list tomorrow, after No10 alerted that there was a rapidly growing Covid strain. This was the most alarming strain of its kind.

The UK Health Security Agency said B.1.1.529 has more than 30 mutations – the most ever recorded in a variant and twice as many as Delta – that suggest it could be more vaccine resistant and transmissible than any version before it.

It has caused an ‘exponential’ rise in infections in South Africa and has already spread to three countries – including Hong Kong and Botswana, where it is believed to have emerged.

The UK Government scientist suggested that the new vaccines could be less effective than current ones in terms of preventing infections.

It’s unclear what impact the variant – which could be named ‘Nu’ by the World Health Organization in the coming days – will have on protection against serious illness, hospitalisation or death.

Ministers were called to an emergency meeting of the Covid Operations cabinet committee tonight, chaired by Cabinet Office minister Steven Barclay, to discuss shutting Britain’s borders to travellers from Africa.

Every day, around 700 South African travellers fly into the UK. An estimated 10,000 have already returned to the UK since November 11, when the variant was first discovered in Botswana.

However, no cases have been found in the UK. Anyone who came back from South Africa during the past 10 days is going to be contacted by the UK and requested to undergo a screening.

This chart shows the proportion of cases that were the B.1.1.529 variant (blue) and Indian 'Delta' variant (red) over time in South Africa. It suggests that the mutant strain could outcompete Delta in the province within weeks

The chart below shows how many cases were either the B.1.1.529 or Indian ‘Delta” variants over the course of time in South Africa. This suggests that Delta could be outcompeted by the mutant strain within weeks.

At the end of the month, the original Red List had been reduced to zero countries when seven more were removed.

No10 is open to the possibility of restoring the traffic light system. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated last month that hundreds of hotels rooms are still available for quarantine.

The UKHSA said it had been in extensive talks with scientists in South Africa about the new varoiant but the situation is ‘rapidly evolving’.

It has been found in only 100 cases so far, but it is present in 3 countries already, which suggests it is much more prevalent than is currently reported.

Two cases have been detected in Hong Kong – both of whom had links to South Africa –three have been picked up in Botswana and the remainder are in South Africa.

However, researchers warned that the lack of surveillance in Africa could be contributing to the underestimation.

Experts in the UK say they will need to wait for two to eight more weeks before they are able to study the variant sufficiently to determine if it’s infectious or resistant to vaccines.

After the first detection of this variant in neighboring Botswana in November 11, infections have risen tenfold in South Africa, from 100 per person to 1,100.

Because of South Africa’s high natural immunity, scientists from the UK government believe it is capable of infecting previously-infected patients.

35% of adult vaccine recipients have had at least one dose. Only 41% of those who are fully vaccinated have been vaccinated.

Today’s press conference was rushedly organized by the South African Government. They revealed that the variant has been officially detected in three provinces, but they warned it is likely to be in nine.