WATCH Covid-19 weekly round-up: Travellers will be monitored for virus variants

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published May 10, 2021

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In an effort to contain the spread of the virus variants from India and the UK, the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) has intensified the monitoring of confirmed Covid-19 cases from travellers arriving in South Africa.

This is according to Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KZN Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform.

De Oliveira said there had been a number of other samples from cases with recent travel into South Africa that are currently being sequenced and results are expected within the next few days.

He said in a series of tweets that a total of 15 Covid-19 variants originating from other countries have been detected in South Africa so far.

Four cases of the dominant variant in India were detected in South Africa over the weekend and a total of 11 cases of the dominant variant in the UK.

Of the four cases with the dominant strain found in India, two were from Gauteng and the other two were from KwaZulu-Natal. All had a history of recent arrivals from India.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases released these findings over the weekend.

Quarantine more effective than a complete travel ban, say experts

A total ban on travel to and from India is not the solution; it should be a matter of identifying people who are coming from India and placing them under quarantine.

Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, deputy director of the African Health Research Institute, said countries should rather consider quarantine than a complete ban.

Calls for South Africa to impose a travel ban from India are growing among local politicians and the public, as India has recently become the world's new Covid-19 epicentre.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said a final determination would be handed to the Cabinet, and a decision would then be communicated to the public.

Countries that have already banned Indian travellers or require quarantine include Israel, Nigeria, Canada, New Zealand and Germany.

Ramaphosa submits proposal for ‘Trips waiver’ on vaccine IP

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the government has submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization calling for a temporary waiver of certain rules set out in the Trips agreement.

The WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, also known as Trips, is an international legal agreement that outlines the standards for intellectual property and patents.

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said that South Africa, alongside India, submitted the proposal in an effort to facilitate wider access to technologies needed to produce vaccines and medicines.

The proposal calls to suspend intellectual property protections for products and technologies needed for the fight against Covid-19 for the duration of the pandemic.

Last week, the US announced its limited support for the “Trips waiver”.

The waiver proposal currently enjoys the support of more than 100 countries.

Keep an eye out next week for another round-up of the top Covid-19 stories.

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