New variant of novel coronavirus detected in South Africa, India directs rigorous testing of all int’l flights

New variant of novel coronavirus detected in South Africa, India directs rigorous testing of all air passengers

South African authorities have announced the detection of a new deadly Covid-19 variant.

This new variant of the novel coronavirus has a very unusual constellation of mutations, as per the Union Health Ministry of India.

The Centre has directed all states to go for a rigorous screen and test. All the travellers coming from three countries in which the variant has been confirmed will be put to screentest. These countries are South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

In a communication to all the states and Union Territories, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan says that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has informed the government that multiple cases of a Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong.

It is worth noting that this variant has a significantly high number of mutations. Thus, it poses serious health risks to the country and public health at large.

Moreover, the mutations detected in B.1.1529 are concerning because they could easily evade the body’s immune response.

All the states will have to send samples from Covid-positive travellers to designated labs of the SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG).

Coronavirus New Variant

Image: Unsplash/Representative

Also, the Covid surveillance officers all over the states will have to coordinate with INSACOG labs.

They will have to undertake test-track-treat to prevent further spread of the variant.

Out of all the four variants of concern (VOC) currently designated by the WHO, Beta (Pango lineage B.1.351), was first detected in South Africa in 2020.

While the other three VoCs, Alpha (B.1.1.7), Delta (B.1.617.2), and Gamma (P.1) were first detected in the UK, India, and Brazil in the year 2020.

According to South African scientists, the early signs suggest that the variant has rapidly increased in the Gauteng province.

Not only this, the variant may already be present in South Africa’s other eight provinces as well.

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