Oil prices sank more than 3% on Monday, as a new infectious strain of the COVID-19 raised fears of tightening lockdown and travel restrictions.
At around 07:00 AM GMT, WTI crude fell 3.1% to $47.6 a barrel, while Brent crude dropped 3.2% to $50.59 a barrel.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday said “the new variant is out of control”, while France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, and Bulgaria all announced restrictions on UK travel.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly will chair an emergency response meeting on Monday to discuss international travel and the flow of freight in and out of the UK.
Traders paid little to no attention to news that US Congress had agreed on a $900 billion virus relief bill, with votes likely later in the day.