Four things you need to know: Covid-19 variants detected in India and UK have hit SA shores

10 May 2021 - 09:45
New Covid-19 variants, first detected in the UK and India, have hit SA shores.
New Covid-19 variants, first detected in the UK and India, have hit SA shores.
Image: 123RF/perig76

New Covid-19 variants, first detected in the UK and India, have hit SA shores. 

Eleven cases of the B.1.1.7 variant discovered in the UK and four cases of the B.1.617.2 variant found in India have been detected in SA.

Here is what you need to know.

New isolated variant cases

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the national health laboratory service, of the four cases of B.1.617.2 variant, two were found in Gauteng and the others were detected in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Of the 11 cases of B.1.1.7, eight were detected in the Western Cape, one was found in KwaZulu-Natal and two were detected in Gauteng.

The institute said all cases have been isolated and managed according to Covid-19 case management guidelines and contact tracing has been performed to limit the spread.

SA is the fourth African country to detect B.1.617.2 variant

SA is the fourth African country to detect the B.1.617.2 variant, after Kenya, Morrocco and Uganda.

Meanwhile, 20 countries have reported the variant that was first detected in the UK. 

“It is not surprising that new variants have been detected in SA”, said Prof Adrian Puren, the NICD’s acting executive director. 

“We would like to assure the public that the institute is focusing resources and research efforts towards understanding the variants and what the potential implications are for SA.” 

Covid-19 precautions to still be practised 

Minimising the spread of the disease and possibly curtailing a resurgence through compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions cannot be emphasised enough, said Puren. 

“We understand that many are suffering from Covid-19 fatigue, and becoming lax in exercising preventive measures. But for the sake of yourselves and your loved ones, wash or sanitise your hands, wear your masks and maintain physical distance of 1.5m from others. 

“Remember to hold gatherings outdoors, or in well-ventilated areas and roll up your sleeve once the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available to you,” he said.

Vaccine rollout to kick-start next week

According to health minister Zweli Mkhize, the second phase of the vaccine rollout is expected to begin next week Monday and will run until October 17.

Mkhize said the country was expecting more than 1.3 million doses of Pfizer BioNTech’s vaccines by the end of May.

In April, Mkhize guaranteed that the number of people to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccines would increase from 10 million to 15 million.


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