The spectre of Omicron: ‘It’s like something Dr Evil would construct on an island lair’

The emergence of the new coronavirus variant has sparked alarm among governments and volatility on the markets, with travel from southern Africa being restricted and blue-chip stocks falling sharply

Passengers in the arrivals area at Heathrow Airport earlier this week: all flights from seven southern African countries into Britain have been suspendedGetty

Global financial markets recorded their sharpest fall in more than a year, as news of a new and potentially vaccine-resistant Covid-19 variant sparked a sell-off by investors on Friday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed last week it had designated the new B.1.1.529 variant, now being called Omicron, as being of concern. The news prompted Ursula Von Der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, to recommend an “emergency break” on travel from South Africa ...