(Bloomberg) -- Oil fell sharply as a new coronavirus strain raised concerns about the outlook for demand and sent global markets spiraling.

Brent fell below $75 a barrel for the first time since late September and futures in New York dropped to $70.82 at 10:35 a.m. ET. The emergence of the new strain represents the biggest threat to the recovery in oil consumption for several months, with several governments tightening restrictions on travel from countries in southern Africa. Global markets sold off heavily, as traders fled to haven assets.

The price plunge is the latest dramatic twist ahead of a key OPEC+ meeting next week. While the gathering was already set to be keenly watched, after an alliance of consumers announced the release of emergency supply earlier this week, the potential severity of the new coronavirus variant is the latest factor that the group will have to tackle when deciding whether to lift output.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.