South Africa is alerting to a new variant of the coronavirus

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JOHANNESBURG — The South African government is considering new public health restrictions to include a rapidly spreading new variant of the coronavirus that researchers say has a large number of mutations that can make it more transmissible and allow it to avoid some of the immune responses triggered by previous infection or vaccination.

The warning from South African researchers and the Ministry of Health, issued in a hastily called news briefing on Thursday, prompted the World Health Organization to convene an expert meeting on Friday to discuss whether the new strain should be declared a “variant of concern.”

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