The European Union aims to stop air travel from southern African region amid rising concerns over a new Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. “The Commission will propose, in close coordination with the Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop flights from the South African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529,” she said in a tweet. The Executive Commission will recommend and hope that all 27 Member States will implement the measure the European council to give the green light as soon as possible, an EU official Added. The UK temporarily banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini from Friday and asked for returning British travelers from these destinations to be quarantined. The variant has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which is worrying because they can help it avoid the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, say South African researchers. Researchers are still evaluating the new virus variant, which was first identified this week. Its discovery on Friday hit the financial markets in Asia, where equities lost their strongest decline in three months and oil fell by more than 3%. Decisions of the European Council, representing the Member States, do not have to be taken by ministers but can also be signed by the country’s ambassadors in Brussels.