South African health officials say a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is driving up the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Officials said Monday the variant, known as 501.V2, appears to be more infectious than the original virus.
South African scientists are trying to determine if approved COVID-19 vaccines will protect against the new strain, which is different from the one detected in Britain.
The new surge in coronavirus cases prompted the South African government to impose tighter lockdown restrictions, including beach closings and limited days and hours for alcohol sales.
South Africa has recorded 920,922 coronavirus cases and 24,691 deaths according to the numbers posted by Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center late Monday.