“This is the most significant variant that we have encountered to this date,” stated Dr Jenny Harries chief executive of U.K. Health Security Agency.

LONDON — Friday saw countries rush to stop travel from southern Africa, where a brand new COVID-19 variant emerged as an alarming source.

The World Health Organization (WHO), convened an emergency meeting to evaluate the variant currently identified as B.1.1.529.

Although scientists are still learning more about the variant that was identified earlier in this week, rapid developments were made due to its concerning nature.

Late Thursday, the U.K. stated that it was addingsix African nations to its redlist, prohibiting all direct flights from South Africa and Botswana.

Israel joined them, while Ursula von der Leyen , President of the European Union Commission, tweetedFriday that 27 member blocs, which is already fighting its own COVID-19 Crisis, would follow suit. According to Reuters, Singapore & Japan & Croatia also stated that they would limit travel from the region.

According to the U.K. Health Security Agency , was looking into the B.1.1.529 variant. It stated that it had identified a number of mutations which could alter its behavior in relation to vaccines, treatments, and transmissibility.

“This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility,” said Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency. “This pandemic reminds everyone that it isn’t over.

According to the agency, the variant was discovered earlier in this week. It has been found in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong. It said that the extent of the spread is still unknown.

Israel claimed that it had also identified the new variant in a traveler from Malawi. Two other cases of suspected were also placed in isolation by the country’s health ministry. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that we are on the brink of an emergency. “Our principle is to act quickly, strong, and now.

In an email statement, the WHO stated Friday that it would convene a meeting of its Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution in order to better understand the timeline of studies on the variant and determine whether it should become a “variant or concern” or “variant o interest”.

Maria Van Kerkhove is an infectious disease epidemiologist at the World Health Organization and COVID-19 technical leader at the World Health Organization . She stated Thursday, that if it were to be named, it would be given Greek names.

Van Kerkhove stated in a video that while we don’t know much about the matter, we do know that this variant is prone to a lot of mutations. “The concern is that having so many mutations can have an effect on the virus’ behavior.”

Van Kerkhove stated that it was good that mutations were detected as it means that a system is in place.

The organization stated that it would take several weeks to fully understand the effects of this variant.