Of all the variants so far, B.1.1.529 is causing the most alarm, but why?
Since delta, there have been eight other variants named sequentially after letters of the Greek alphabet by the organisation, but none have triggered this much worry.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has warned that the public need to be ready for a change in Covid restrictions.
Sarah Knapton details why the ‘nu’ variant is the most concerning so far. Joe Pinkstone examines the other Covid mutations that have occurred.
Global markets hammered
The new variant has wreaked havoc on global markets, with more than £60bn wiped off the FTSE100 amid fears the mutation is more transmissible and could even evade vaccines.
Traders were scrambling to cut their bets on a Bank of England rate rise next month as fears of a new coronavirus variant rocked global stock markets.
US oil prices slumped 10pc to just above $70 a barrel, while benchmark Brent crude dropped more than 9pc to below $75.
Our liveblog will follow the changes, while Ben Marlow has called on ministers to hold their nerve as markets are spooked.
Ironically, this comes as fresh analysis today suggested Britain’s economy is set to grow more quickly than China’s for the first time since the death of Mao Zedong. Read on for details.
International travel fears
Of course, this has had wide implications on travel, with South Africa and neighbouring nations placed on a travel red list from noon today.
The reintroduction of the red list comes just 25 days after the UK removed all countries from the hotel quarantine category.
Here is everything you need to know about how the travel changes will affect your next holiday and Nick Trend warns that this new variant has the potential to grind international travel to a halt once again.
Comment and analysis
Around the world: ‘Go westwards’ says Belarus’ leader
Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko has promised food and warm clothing to migrants who opt to stay at the border between the ex-Soviet nation and Poland and won’t return to their homeland. Lukashenko made the pledge during a visit to a facility that accommodates migrants at the border. “My task is to help you, people in trouble,” Lukashenko said, addressing thousands of migrants during a visit to a facility accommodating migrants at the Bruzgi warehouse. See images here.
‘Right-wingers have much more of a sense of humour than the Left’