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Nu COVID-19 variant rears its ugly head

Posted November. 27, 2021 07:27,   

Updated November. 27, 2021 07:27


The Nu COVID-19 variant (B.1.1.529) has increased influence exponentially over two weeks since it was first reported in southern Africa, causing public concern due to its greater potential risks than those from the Delta variant. The World Health Organization (WHO) opened an emergency meeting on Friday (local time) to decide whether to designate it as a “major variant.” Right after its landing on Hong Kong, one of the nearest neighboring nations of South Korea, the Nu resulted in secondary infection, only increasing infection risks.

Local health authorities in South Africa assume that it is the Nu variant which has driven the number of newly confirmed cases by 12 times across the nation for the recent two weeks, according to The Financial Times. Johannesburg, the largest city of South Africa, found on Wednesday based on gene analysis results that 90 percent of new cases are infected with the Nu variant.

South Africa has been overwhelmed by the new COVID-19 type in two weeks since the first patient was reported to come down with it on Nov. 11 in Botswana near South Africa. The Nu variant is spreading at a way faster pace than any other variant including the Delta across South Africa, said The Financial Times. While a Nu-infected traveler from South Africa arrived in Hong Kong to stay in quarantine, the virus may have been transmitted to another traveler in the opposite hotel room, reported Bloomberg on Thursday.

With concerns over the spread of the Nu variant growing over the market, stock prices in major Asian nations alike dropped sharply on Friday. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) on Friday decreased 1.47 percent (43.83 points) to 2,936.44 compared to the previous day. Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 2.53 percent while the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index went down 0.56 percent. The Hong Kong stock market fell more than two percent.

Jong-Yeob JO jjj@donga.com · Min-Woo Park minwoo@donga.com