On Thursday the Department of Health held an emergency briefing to discuss a new variant of Covid-19 that has been detected in South Africa.
The newly discovered B.1.1.529 Covid-19 variant is currently concerned around the world. This as it has been found to have 32 spike protein mutations.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID) has confirmed that at least 22 cases of the B.1.1.592 valiant have been reported in the country. Samples of the new variant have been collected in Gauteng, Botswana and Hong Kong.
Head of the KwaZulu-Natal Research, Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) Professor Tulio De Oliviera says that the new variant can be detected by a certain polymerase chain reaction (PRC) test. This means it can be detected very quickly.
He says while it is still difficult to make predictions as to how this variant will impact the country, Covid-19 vaccines remain a critical tool in protecting people from serve disease and hospitalisation.
NICD Acting Executive Director Professor Adrian Puren says the experts are working overtime to establish surveillance systems in order to understand the implications the discovery of a new variant could have on the country. He does however concede that it is not surprising that a new variant has been detected.
Dr Michelle Groome, Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the NICD says the public must continue to practice non-pharmaceutical measures. This includes social distancing, frequent hand washing and mask wearing. She says that these measures can go a long way in limiting the spread of the new variant.
In the past 24 hours, 1 275 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the country. This brings the total number of active cases in South Africa to 20 610. An additional 22 deaths were reported.
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