South African Rand.
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After detecting new variants with many mutations in the country, the South African rand fell sharply against the US dollar on Friday.
During the Asian trading session on Friday, the currency’s exchange rate against the US dollar fell to 16.2391, and the final transaction price fell by about 1.6% to 16.2215 per US dollar.
During the decline, investors flocked to safe-haven currencies such as the yen, and the exchange rate of the yen against the dollar rose by about 0.6% to 114.69. The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the U.S. dollar against other currencies, was at 96.712, and was below 96.5 earlier this week.
World Health Organization officials said on Thursday that they are monitoring a new variant in which the spike protein has many mutations, which is the part of the virus that binds to cells in the body. The health agency is arranging a special meeting on Friday to discuss what this might mean for vaccines and treatments.
According to the World Health Organization, this variant named B.1.1.529 has been found in small quantities in South Africa.
“We don’t know much about it yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. The worrying thing is that when you have so many mutations, it affects the way the virus behaves,” WHO Covid-19 technical leader, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said in a Q&A live on the organization’s social media channels.
Hours after the announcement, the UK announced that it would suspend flights from six African countries.
— CNBC’s Hannah Miao contributed to this report.
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