Here’s all about the new Covid-19 variant that spooked stock markets


by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: Nov 26, 2021, 03:01 PM IST

The stock markets in India were spooked by a new African coronavirus variant, which has both the Indian government as well as the World Health Organization worried. 

Benchmark indices on Friday fell sharply by more than 2% as South Africa and some countries in Europe, including, most notably, Germany, witnessed record spikes in cases. 

What is the new variant called and where was it detected first?

The new variant has been code named B.1.1.529. The variant was first detected in South Africa. 

What has the Indian government done so far?

The Indian government has asked states and union territories to be extra careful and remain cautious, in the wake of the spread of the new variant. The central government wants local governments to keep a special watch over travellers coming into the country from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong. 

The government wants all passengers travelling from or through these countries and from all other countries that are ‘at risk’ to be rigorously screened and tested. The government also wants the contacts of these travellers to be screened, tracked and tested. 

But why is this variant particularly worrisome?

The WHO says that the new variant is particularly worrisome since it has been reported to have had a high number of mutations, and therefore is a potential health risk. The mutations are reportedly unusual, in that they apparently evade the body’s immune response. The new variant reportedly evolved during a chronic infection in an HIV patient who had remained untreated. 

What adds to India’s worry is that this variant has been detected just as the country has begun relaxing visa curbs and has opened up its tourism and hospitality sectors for foreign and domestic tourists. 

What is the situation in Europe?

Several countries in Europe, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary, are reporting fresh surges in cases. Germany’s death toll has surpassed 100,000. The country is battling its most severe Covid-19 outbreak yet, and has announced several restrictions including mandatory vaccinations for using public transport and the use of other public places. 

The WHO has said that as many as 700,000 people could die of the disease this winter. 

France, too, will announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus, including possibly booster vaccine shots. Italy is also placing restrictions on unvaccinated people from accessing public places. 

Sweden and Portugal will also give booster shots to parts of their populations and Slovakia is entering a two-week lockdown. Austria, too, has declared a lockdown.

How many cases of the new variant have actually been detected yet?

So far at least 100 cases have been found in South Africa alone. Botswana and Hong Kong, too, have reported some cases.

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SENSEX
54,318.47
1,344.63 (2.54%)
Nifty 50
16,259.30
417.00 (2.63%)
Nifty Bank
34,301.90
704.30 (2.10%)

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