Health Minister Sajid Javid will make an urgent announcement this morning about the coronavirus.
The 11am statement comes as a disturbing new complex variant of Covid 19 has been discovered.
100 cases of the mutated variant have been found in three countries, adding six countries to the UK’s red list to travel.
Mr Javid will speak in the House of Commons.
There are fears the virus will spread more easily and beat vaccines as it has twice as many mutations as Delta – which could mean reintroducing restrictions in the UK.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and that “the vaccines we currently have may be less effective”.
He said flights to England from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from noon on Friday and that all six countries will be added to the red list.
While no cases have been found in Britain, officials have expressed concern about a rapid increase in cases in South Africa.
Anyone who has arrived from the country in the past 10 days is invited to come forward and take a test by the UK Health Security Agency.
The UK government said on Thursday that residents of the UK and Ireland who arrive in England between 12pm Friday and 4am Sunday and who have been in the six countries in the past 10 days will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days and undergo NHS PCR testing. on day two and day eight, even if they have already booked a lateral flow test.
Passengers – including residents of the UK and Ireland – arriving from 4am on a Sunday will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel and quarantine for 10 days. They should also do tests on day two and day eight.