The World Health Organization has named a new coronavirus variant "Omicron" and classified it as a highly transmissible variant of concern.
In response, global authorities are shutting their airways to prevent its further spread.
Jang Tae-hyun reports.
The World Health Organization on Friday named the new variant detected in South Africa Omicron.
And the agency's technical advisory group on virus evolution added that it might spread faster than other forms.
"They have advised WHO that this variant should be classified as a variant of concern. So, today we are announcing B.1.1.529 is a variant of concern named Omicron."
The world's fifth coronavirus variant, Omicron, was first reported to the WHO by South Africa on November 24th.
And there are now cases in almost every province in South Africa.
Infectious disease experts warn that the spread of this variant might decrease the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.
The new variant has a significant number of mutations with worrying characteristics, which may pose a higher risk of reinfection than past mutations of the virus.
In response to that, countries around the world are tightening restrictions to contain the further spread of the variant.
The European Union's chief executive called on Friday for a suspension of flights to those places.
"The European Commission has today proposed to member states to activate the emergency break on travel from countries in southern Africa, and other countries affected to limit the spread of the new variant."
The European Union Member States agreed to put restrictions on all travel into the EU from 7 countries in the Southern Africa region including Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The commission said the EU wanted to activate an "emergency brake" to stop flights coming in from those regions.
Some Asian countries like Japan have placed restrictions on travelers from 6 African countries and are requiring people who have recently been to those countries to go into a 10-day quarantine.
Malaysia and the Philippines have also declared a travel ban.
Major biotech companies, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna, are still investigating whether their vaccines are effective against the new variant.
Jang Tae-hyun, Arirang News.