The World Health Organization is convening an experts' meeting from Geneva at midday (1100 GMT) on Friday to assess the new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529 amid growing concern, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said.
"WHO is convening a meeting ... to better understand the timeline for studies that are under way and to determine if this variant should be designated as a variant of interest or variant of concern," he said.
Nearly 100 sequences of the variant have been reported, and early analysis shows it has "a large number of mutations" requiring further study, Lindmeier said. The WHO had no comment for now on travel restrictions imposed by some authorities on southern african countries linked to the variant, he added.
A man walks past a mannequin with a face mask after the announcement of a British ban on flights from South Africa because of the detection of a new coronavirus disease variant, in Soweto, South Africa. REUTERS