South Africa has announced it had detected a new Covid-19 strain that scientists fear could torpedo efforts to beat the pandemic.
Reports suggest that the new variant is the most heavily mutated version discovered so far - and it has such a long list of mutations that its described by one scientist as "horrific", while another said it is the worst variant they'd seen.
It is early days and the confirmed cases are still mostly concentrated in a few province, but there are hints it may have spread further.
Here is everything we know about the new variant:
South African tourism this week suffered yet another blow as Europe, Asia and the Middle-East impose travel bans following the emergence of the new Covid-19 variant in the country.
Reports indicated that Israel, Germany, Singapore, and Japan followed in the footsteps of the United Kingdom in imposing travel bans and flight restrictions on South Africa.
The WHO expected to name the new variant
The World Health Organization’s technical working group is to meet Friday to assess the new variant and may decide whether or not to give it a name from the Greek alphabet.
The WHO had no comment for now on travel restrictions imposed by some authorities on southern African countries linked to the variant, he added.
SA vaccination drive intensifies
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has again called on interfaith leaders to encourage South Africans to vaccinate, saying this was still the best defence against the virus.
This is despite the fact experts are unsure if the current Covid vaccines will work against the new variant which has multiple mutations.
Data for people who are fully vaccinated in the country remains low, some reports suggest that less than 30% is fully vaccinated.