South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

Five countries on Monday announced that they have banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.

Last week, South African scientists confirmed that the new variant could see more people infected in the country’s second wave than in the initial surge.

Since the end of September, they established that the 501.V2 variant has between 10 and 20 new mutations.

While it is still unclear whether it is more deadly, it appears to be spreading faster and parts of the Eastern and Western Cape provinces are facing strict lockdown restrictions.

Israel, Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland have all barred air travel to and from South Africa.

“Following the discovery of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the UK and South Africa, the Federal Council today decided to take steps to prevent the further spread of this new virus strain,” it said in a statement.

“All persons who have entered Switzerland from these two countries since December 14 must go into quarantine for 10 days.”

South Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen to 921,922, an increase of 9,445 cases over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

The death toll from the virus currently stands at 24,691.

PANA/NAN