Dow drops 800 points at open as new COVID-19 variant emerges

Nov 26, 2021, 7:42 AM | Updated: 11:28 am
Wall Street stimulus dow covid...
FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2020 file photo, a sign for Wall Street is carved in the side of a building. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK — The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 800 points at the opening bell on Friday, amid rising concerns over a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa.

European and Asian markets fell sharply overnight as well. 

South African health officials spoke about the new COVID-19 variant, saying it may tie directly to a sudden uptick in case counts in that country. Additionally, cases among travelers in Hong Kong and Botswana appeared to involve people who had been in South Africa, according to Health Minister Joseph Phaahla. 

Friday, the World Health Organization planned to convene a group of experts to take a closer look at the data. Phaahla said in recent weeks, South Africa averaged just over 200 new cases per day. But on Thursday, the country registered 2,465 new cases of COVID-19. When researchers looked at the virus samples, they discovered the new variant, which the World Health Organization has described as highly transmissible and has named “Omicron.” 

On Friday, the World Health Organization was convening a group of experts to assess the data from South Africa.

This story will be updated. 

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