Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

No flights from India, or variant detected in SA, says Mkhize

By Staff Reporter Time of article published May 4, 2021

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Cape Town – Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that the deadly B.1.617 variant that is ravaging India has not been detected in South Africa.

Mkhize has called for calm following a reported case of the coronavirus found in a KwaZulu-Natal patient who had recently travelled to India.

The reported infection has sparked fears about the possibility of the B.1.617 variant, which is ravaging India, being found in South Africa.

“We have not detected the B.1.617 variant as yet in South Africa. However, we have consulted members of the the genomics team who have informed us that they have intensified their surveillance, not only to ensure that variant can be detected quickly but also to understand what the implications are for us in the context of B.1.351 being the dominant variant in South Africa,” said Mkhize.

South Africa’s ports of entry remain partially closed and there are no direct flights from India to South Africa.

Mkhize said that he would consult the Ministerial Advisory Committee on other measures regarding travellers from countries that have other variants of the virus.

“We have also consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee, to advise us on the approach to management of travellers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern. Their advice will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce these determinations in due course,” he said.

The minister called for calm, saying all points of entry have strict containment measures.

“We wish to reassure citizens 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. We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment.”

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