The price of Bitcoin plummeted 10% in 12 hours and the cryptocurrency market lost almost $300 billion on Friday as a new coronavirus variant created fear across markets around the world.
After climbing to as high as $59,400 late Thursday, the price of Bitcoin dove to $53,500 around 7 a.m. EDT (1200GMT) on Friday for a 10% decline, according to data calculated by Anadolu Agency.
Ethereum, the world's second-largest cryptocurrency, fell 14% to $3,910, from $4,550, during that period. Some altcoins fell as much as 20% in half a day before showing some limited recovery.
The total value of the crypto market decreased to $2.39 trillion, from $2.68 trillion, losing a staggering $290 billion, according to data by digital asset price-tracking website CoinMarketCap.
The sudden decline came amid investors' fears that a new coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.529 in South Africa could cause new quarantine measures, closure of businesses, and halt global economic recovery.
The World Health Organization (WHO) convened earlier Friday a special meeting to discuss the new variant, noting that it was detected "at a remarkable speed," and it will take a few weeks to understand its impact.
"Early analysis shows that this variant has a large number of mutations that require and will undergo further study," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a UN news conference.
Amid uncertainty and fear, Asian stock markets lost around 2%, while European stock exchanges dove more than 3%./aa