South Africa Detects New Covid-19 Variant, Scientists Working To Understand Implications

New Delhi: Amid the growing concern of yet another surge of Coronavirus in African nations, a new strain of the contagious virus has been detected in South Africa that has reportedly infected as many as 22 people in the country. 

Twenty-two positive cases of the new variant – called B.1.1.529 – have come to light in South Africa following genomic sequencing collaborations between the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, and private laboratories.

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Health Minister Joe Phaahla said that the new variant was of “serious concern” and behind an “exponential” increase in reported cases, making it “a major threat”.

Speaking about the same, Professor Adrian Puren, NICD Acting Executive Director said that it is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa.

“Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date, news agency PTI quoted Puren as saying. 

Meanwhile, experts are working overtime to understand what potential implications the new Covid variant can have.

There has been a potential rise in the number of people turning testing positive, especially in the most populated province of Gauteng, North West and Limpopo. Provincial health authorities are on high alert and are prioritising the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples.

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Officials have cautioned people to get vaccinated, wear masks, practice healthy hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and gather in well ventilated spaces. 

According to reports, the new variant has a very high number of mutations and is causing a resurgence of infections. Scientists said the new B.1.1.529 variant has at least 10 mutations, compared to two for Delta or three for Beta.

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