Southern Africa’s New Covid-19 Variant Prompts Wave of Travel Restrictions

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JOHANNESBURG—Dozens of countries restricted travel to and from South Africa and neighboring nations Friday, hoping to contain a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus that scientists say may be more contagious and could render the current crop of Covid-19 vaccines less effective.

Experts from the World Health Organization were due to meet later Friday to decide whether to declare the new strain—currently known as B.1.1.529—a “variant of concern.” The WHO uses this label for virus strains that have been proven to be more contagious, lead to more serious illness or decrease the effectiveness of public-health measures, tests, treatments or vaccines.

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