The discovery of a new coronavirus variant sent US stocks tumbling Friday as nations around the globe halt air travel, and scientists hold emergency meetings with the World Health Organization to weigh risks of the virus variant.
Medical experts, including the World Health Organization, warned against any overreaction before the variant that originated in southern Africa was better understood.
“There’s a lot we don’t understand about this variant,” infectious disease expert Richard Lessells said during a press briefing hosted by South Africa’s health department Thursday, according to Nature. “The mutation profile gives us concern, but now we need to do the work to understand the significance of this variant and what it means for the response to the pandemic.”
Several European countries implemented restrictions on travel to South Africa Friday, joining Singapore, Israel, the U.K., and the Netherlands, The New York Times reported.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned global leaders against jumping to conclusions, the so-called B.1.1.529 variant continues to rapidly spread across southern Africa and has been reported in Europe and Asia, according to the BBC.
“Substantively NOTHING is known about the new variant,” Italian virologist Roberto Burioni tweeted, the New York Times reported.
Burioni said people shouldn’t panic until further information is known.
The US stock market plummeted Friday following reports that of the new, more contagious COVID variant is rapidly spreading in South Africa and parts of Europe.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), an index measuring 30 major U.S. corporations, dropped 2.32% immediately after markets opened Friday.
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