Helpless and furious, South African tour operators are flooded with cancellations as countries follow Britain’s decision to ban travel from the region over the discovery of a new coronavirus variant. “This is a knee-jerk reaction but with such a strong snowball effect,” said Richard de la Rey of Dark Giraffe Marketing, which organises safaris and beach holidays in Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. “No one knows anything about this variant at all and they just assume the worst,” he huffed. Hopes for a prolific post-pandemic tourist season were dashed in South Africa on Thursday, when scientists said they had detected a new Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations. The variant, which goes by the scientific label B.1.1.529, is blamed for a recent surge in infections in Africa’s worst-hit country. Just hours after it was announced, Britain said all flights from South Africa and its neighbours Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana would be prohibited from Friday.