COVID-19: New variant detected in 3 countries

3d rendering coronavirus cell or covid-19 cell disease in blood

The media report indicated yesterday that scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa and are working to understand its potential implications.

They have confirmed around 100 specimens, but the variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong case of a traveler from South Africa.

Scientists told reporters at a news conference that the variant, which is called B.1.1.529, has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which are worrying because they could escape the body’s immune response and make it more communicable.

Early signs from diagnostic laboratories suggest the variant has promptly increased in the most populated province of Gauteng, South Africa, and may already be existing in the country’s other eight provinces, they said.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said 22 positive cases of the new variant have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing.

“Unfortunately we have detected a new variant which is a reason for concern in South Africa,” virologist Tulio de Oliveira told the news conference.

“The variant has a very high number of mutations. It’s, unfortunately, causing a resurgence of infections,” he added.

Daily infections jumped to more than 1,200 on Wednesday, up from about 100 earlier this month.

South Africa has requested an urgent sitting of a World Health Organisation (WHO) working group on virus evolution today to discuss the new variant.



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