South African rand takes a hit on fears of new Covid variant with many mutations

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South African rand.

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The South African rand connected Friday fell sharply against the dollar aft a caller variant with galore mutations was detected successful the country.

The currency fell to arsenic debased arsenic 16.2391 against the greenback during Asia trading hours connected Friday and was past trading astir 1.6% weaker astatine 16.2215 per dollar.

The losses came arsenic investors scurried toward safe-haven currencies specified arsenic the Japanese yen, which strengthened astir 0.6% against the greenback to 114.69 per dollar. The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against its peers, was astatine 96.712 — arsenic compared with levels beneath 96.5 seen earlier this week.

World Health Organization officials said Thursday they are monitoring a caller variant with galore mutations to the spike macromolecule — the portion of the microorganism that binds to cells successful the body. The wellness bureau is scheduling a peculiar gathering Friday to sermon what it whitethorn mean for vaccines and treatments.

The variant, called B.1.1.529, has been detected successful South Africa successful tiny numbers, according to the WHO.

"We don't cognize precise overmuch astir this yet. What we bash cognize is that this variant has a ample fig of mutations. And the interest is that erstwhile you person truthful galore mutations, it tin person an interaction connected however the microorganism behaves," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's method pb connected Covid-19, said successful a Q&A that was livestreamed connected the organization's societal media channels.

Hours pursuing the announcement, the United Kingdom announced it would temporarily suspend flights from six African countries.

— CNBC's Hannah Miao contributed to this report.

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