Biden to bar travel from South Africa

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United States President Joe Biden is expected to re-impose a travel ban that Donald Trump lifted just days before his term ended.

The restrictions expected to be reinstated later on Monday would apply to non-US citizens travelling from South Africa and Brazil, which are facing new variants of coronavirus.

Travellers from the UK, Ireland and 26 other European countries are also expected to be banned.

The Trump administration’s decision to lift the travel ban which had been in place since last March was criticised by President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki, who had tweeted that the incoming government didn’t intend to abide by the change.

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According to experts, the South African variant carries a mutation called E484K, among others.

It’s different to another recently discovered variant that scientists have been studying in the UK.

Both the new South African and UK “Kent” variants appear to be more contagious, which is a problem because tougher restrictions on society may be needed to control the spread.

While changes in the new UK variant are unlikely to harm the effectiveness of current vaccines, there is a chance those in the South African variant may do so to some extent, say scientists.

It is too soon to say for sure, or by how much, until more tests are completed, although it is extremely unlikely the mutations would render vaccines useless.

Scientists have tested the Pfizer Covid vaccine against one of the mutations found in the South African variant, called N501Y, using blood samples from 20 people.