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South African rand takes hit on new Covid fears, variant

South African rand.

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After a variety of mutations were discovered in South Africa, the rand fell against the dollar on Friday.

On Friday, the dollar fell as low as 16.2391 to the greenback in Asia. The currency was trading around 1.6% less at 16.2215 per $1.

Investors fled to safe haven currencies like the US Dollar, resulting in losses Japanese yenThe dollar strengthened by 0.6% to 114.69 against the greenback. U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against its peers, was at 96.712 — as compared with levels below 96.5 seen earlier this week.

World Health Organization officials said Thursday they are monitoring a new variant with numerous mutations to the spike protein — the part of the virus that binds to cells in the body. It is scheduled for Friday’s special meeting by the health agency to discuss its implications and potential impact on vaccines or treatments.

According to WHO, this variant is called B.1.1.529 and has been identified in South Africa.

We don’t have much information on this. This variant contains a lot of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said in a Q&A that was livestreamed on the organization’s social media channels.

Within hours of the announcement, the United Kingdom said it would temporarily suspend flights from six African countries.

— CNBC’s Hannah Miao contributed to this report.

Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.