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'Reason for concern'| Centre Issues Alert Over South Africa's New COVID Variant, Calls For Tracking & Testing

The Centre said the new variant "is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations and thus has serious public health implications for the country."

COVID-19, Rajesh Bhushan

Image: PTI/Pixabay


Triggered by South Africa's new COVID variant, India on Thursday cautioned states and Union Territories over international passengers travelling from or through Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong.

Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to states and UTs ordering 'rigorous screening and testing' of passengers travelling from mentioned regions. The government has also informed that “multiple cases of COVID variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Hong Kong (1 case)”.

"It is necessary that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries and also including all other 'at risk' countries are subjected to rigorous screening and testing. The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested," wrote health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to states and UTs. 

New COVID-19 variant has 'significantly high number of mutations'

Explaining the threat that this variant poses, the Centre said that B.1.1529 'have a significantly high number of mutations and thus has serious public health implications'. 

"This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations and thus has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel," warned the Centre.

Admitting that there is not much information available regarding the variant yet, World Health Organisation official Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, during a press conference, confirmed that the variant has a large number of mutations. 

South Africa says new variant 'reason for concern'

In a statement, South Africa's health ministry confirmed that a new variant has been detected and it is a 'reason for concern'.

COVID-19 cases in India

In the latest update by the Ministry of Health, India reported 9,119 fresh COVID-19 cases in 24 hours. India's active caseload stands at 1,09,940 which is the lowest in 539 days. The total number of recoveries is currently figured at 3,39,67,962 and the recovery rate is currently at 98.33%.

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