NICD: COVID-19 variant in India not detected in SA

NICD: COVID-19 variant in India not detected in SA

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says the variant of COVID-19 currently spreading across India has not been detected in South Africa.

COVID-19 test
iStock -Lab technician holding swab collection kit,Coronavirus COVID-19 specimen collecting equipment,DNA nasal and oral swabbing for PCR polymerase chain reaction laboratory testing procedure and shipping

Some media reports claim that a person travelling from India tested positive for a variant of the virus in South Africa but the exact strain of the virus has not been confirmed.

The NICD says to date the B.1.617 variant has not been detected in the country and any suspected cases will be investigated.

It says the institution has tremendous empathy for the dire situation that is unfolding in India.

 The institute's Michelle Groome says testing of COVID-19 positive samples from travelers entering South Africa from India and their close contacts will be prioritised.

In a statement released on Monday evening, the NICD said the mutation of viruses is a natural occurrence in the lifecycle of any virus, evident with the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 lineage in South Africa in October 2020.

Meanwhile Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize confirmed that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19. 

"Meanwhile, we have also consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee to advise us on the approach to management of travelers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern," Mkhize said.

"Their advise will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce these determinations in due course. For now we ask for calm to prevail as we continue to adhere to the health protocols, tighten containment measures at our ports of entry and keep a balance as we maintain economic activity," Mkhize added.

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