22 cases of new Covid variant detected in SA
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CAPE TOWN - Twenty -two positive cases of the new Covid-19 variant, B.1.1.529, have been detected in South Africa.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, on Thursday confirmed 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 the country.
This followed genomic sequencing collaborations between the NICD and private laboratories. In addition, other NGS-SA laboratories are confirming more cases as sequencing results come out.
“It’s not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa,” said NICD acting executive director Professor Adrian Puren.
“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.”
Detected cases and the percent testing positive are both increasing quickly, particularly in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo.
Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the NICD, Dr Michelle Groome, said provincial health authorities remain on high alert and are prioritising the sequencing of Covid-19 positive samples.
She stressed that regardless of the emergence of new Covid-19 variants, the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions remains unchanged and the public are urged to be responsible.
“This means that individuals should get vaccinated, wear masks, practise healthy hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and gather only in well-ventilated spaces. Individual compliance with preventive measures can have a great collective impact in limiting the spread of the new variant.”