“Initially it looked like a few cluster outbreaks, but since yesterday, our scientists from the network of genomic surveillance indicated that they were seeing a new variant,” Health Minister Joe Fahla said. — currently dubbed b.22.214.171.1249 — first emerged.
Fahla said it has so far been found in a traveler traveling from South Africa, Botswana and South Africa to Hong Kong.
Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, said the variant has “many more mutations than we expected,” adding that it is “spreading very rapidly and we expect to see pressure in the health system in the next few years.” ” A few days and weeks.”
He advised the public to “try to avoid super-spreading incidents”.
Officials also expressed concern that the mutation could result in evasion of immunity and increase the transmittance of the virus, but at the same time it was too early to say what effect the mutation would have on vaccine efficacy. Officials said that more studies need to be done to understand the clinical severity of the variants as compared to the previous variants.
“The full significance of this variant remains uncertain and we still have the best equipment vaccines,” de Oliveira said. He added that laboratory studies still need to be done to test the vaccine and antibody evasion.
UK bans flights to 6 African countries
Also on Thursday, UK officials announced that six African countries would be added to England’s travel “red list” after the UK’s Health Protection Agency expressed concerns over the variant.
UK Health Minister Sajid Javid said flights to the UK from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from Friday afternoon and all six countries will be added to the red list – meaning UK residents And British and Irish citizens will be required to undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense upon arrival home from those points of departure.
Javid said the UK had so far “not detected any of this new version” in the country.
On Friday, South African officials will inform the World Health Organization, which has classified B.1.1.529 as a “Version Under Monitoring”.
Granthshala’s Duterte Mendonca contributed to this report.
Credit : www.cnn.com