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Bitcoin (BTC) enters bear market on new variant of Covid

Bitcoin prices have fallen sharply amid the global sell-off of stocks.

Luc MacGregor | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Bitcoin fell sharply alongside other assets on Friday, hitting a six-week low and officially entering bear market territory.

Bitcoin has fallen 7% in the past 24 hours to $ 54,561, according to data from Coin Metrics, its lowest level since October 8. The cryptocurrency is down 20% from an all-time high of nearly $ 69,000 it hit earlier this month.

Bear markets are generally defined as a decline of 20% or more from recent highs.

Other cryptocurrencies also plunged on Friday. Ether, the second largest crypto, fell more than 10% to $ 4,007, while XRP fell 10% to around 95 cents.

Digital currencies are falling in tandem with other risky assets amid panic over a new, highly mutated variant of the coronavirus first detected in South Africa.

The World Health Organization gave a briefing on Thursday on the new variant, known as B.1.1.529, which is said to contain more than 30 mutations. The UK and other countries have temporarily suspended flights from six African countries in response.

Bitcoin has often been described by its supporters as “digital gold,” a reference to the yellow metal’s status as a so-called safe haven asset.

Crypto investors say virtual currency offers a store of value as well as a hedge against inflation.

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