A new variant of the dreaded and deadly coronavirus, that locked down the whole world in 2020, has again been detected in South Africa.
The variant called B.1.1. 529, is reportedly worse in comparison to all other variants including the dreaded Delta variant because of its mutation rate, and transmissibility.
This is according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, that confirmed the ‘discovery’ of the B.1.1. 529, in a release statement by the NICD acting executive director, Adrian Puren on Thursday.
The country’s Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, also confirmed that, the new variant has been detected in Botswana, and in Hong Kong.
Minister Phaahla submitted that the advent of the new variant is of ‘serious concern’ and ‘a major threat’ following the ‘exponential’ rate in reported cases.
Adding her voice to the statement is the Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response also at the NICD, Michelle Groome, who said the ‘country’s provincial health authorities remain on high alert and are prioritising the sequencing of COVID19 positive samples.’
With this new additional variant, the pointer is clear that the deadly Covid 19 virus is still very much present in the world.
Michelle Groome therefore emphasized,
“This means that individuals should get vaccinated, wear masks, practice healthy hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and gather in well ventilated spaces; adding that “Individual compliance to preventative measures can have a great collective impact in limiting the spread of the new variant.”
The statement reads in part,
“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases, (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, confirms that through collaborative efforts with private laboratories, and the NGS-SA members, a new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, has been detected in South Africa.”
“Twenty-two positive cases of variant B.1.1.529 have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing collaborations between the NICD and private laboratories. In addition, other NGS-SA laboratories are confirming more cases as sequencing results come out.”
“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.”
As of September 2021, the World Health Organisation, (WHO), identified five COVID variants which include: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Mu. But with the new addition of B.1.1.529 variant, to adhere strictly to all the laid down Covid 19 protocols as stipulated by the WHO is a way of preventing the spread.