Airline and hotel stocks were under pressure on November 26 on worries over a new coronavirus variant that has been detected in South Africa.
The stocks fell 3-6 percent in the morning trade on fears that the new strain could be vaccine-resistant. The new variant also spooked the market, which was flashing red in the morning trade. At 10.12 am, the Sensex and Nifty were trading 1.6 percent low at 57,870.31 and 17,255.85.
The airline and hotel stocks were among the worst hit when the outbreak began as travel came to a standstill with countries imposing curbs to prevent the spread.
The stocks recovered after restrictions were eased on the back of speedy vaccination but the new variant could put pressure on the travel industry.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is to hold a special meeting on November 26 to discuss the new strain, officials said.
Identified as B.1.1.529, the variant is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country's most populous province, South Africa’s health minister Joe Phaahla said on November 25.
The Centre on November 25 asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where the new variant has been reported.
In a letter to additional chief secretary/principal secretary/secretary (Health) of all states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to designated genome sequencing laboratories promptly.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has lifted the travel ban on people from India and five more nations effective from December 1 and allowed direct entry for fully vaccinated expatriates, revoking the mandatory 14-day quarantine outside the country.
The Saudi interior ministry has, however, maintained that a five-day quarantine was a must for the entrants, irrespective of their vaccination status, with all measures subject to constant evaluation by the country’s health authorities. Pakistan, Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt and Indonesia are the other five countries.Jet Airways was quoting at Rs 89, down Rs 0.05, or 0.06 percent and Indian Hotels Company was quoting at Rs 198.70, down Rs 6.65, or 3.24 percent on the BSE.