The South African variant of COVID-19, named 501.V2, has been detected in two people in the United Kingdom, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed Thursday.
Both of the patients were in contact with people who had traveled from South Africa over the past several weeks.
The British health secretary added the South African 501.V2 appears to be more transmissible than the UK variant, which is named B.1.1.7, “as this variant has mutated further than the UK variant.”
Flights and arrivals entering English from South Africa were to be halted beginning 9 am Friday due to the outbreak of the new variant, according to British Transport Secretary Welwyn Hatfield MP.
“British & Irish Nationals, visa holders and permanent residents arriving from South Africa will be able to enter but are required to self-isolate for ten days along with their household,” Hatfield tweeted Thursday.
“Visitors from South Africa will not be permitted to enter, to stop the spread of COVID-19.”