European stocks sank over 3% this morning as reports of a newly identified and possibly vaccine resistant coronavirus variant stoked fears of a fresh hit to global economy and drove investors out of riskier assets.
Cyclical-heavy European stock markets have already been under stress this week as a resurgence in Covid-19 cases prompted new restrictions in several countries.
Shares in London were down 2.8% by around 9am, while the Paris CAC slumped 3.9% and the Frankfurt DAX lost 3.1%.
The Dublin market was also weaker, falling 3% with shares in Ryanair sinking over 7%, while Dalata Hotel Group fell 4.5% and ICG was down almost 3%.
Travel and leisure stocks plunged after Britain announced a temporary ban on flights from South Africa and several neighbouring countries from today.
Shares in Aer Lingus and British Airways owner IAG and EasyJet fell over 12%, while cruise operator Carnivaland travel company TUI fell between 12% and 15%.
Oil and gas producers dropped 5.8%, while miners tumbled 4.4% as oil and metal prices lost ground as reports of the new virus variant fuelled economic slowdown worries.
Earlier in Asian trade, shares in Tokyo closed 2.5% lower while the Hong Kong market fell 2.6%.