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What is the new COVID-19 variant which has India worried

Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, Nov 26: With a new variant of COVID-19 found with multiple mutations which have led to a surge in infections, India has called for rigorous screening of fliers coming in from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong.

    South Africa reports new variant of Covid-19 virus with multiple mutations | Oneindia News
    What is the new COVID-19 variant which has India worried

    The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked states and union territories to sent samples of travellers turning positive to designated genome sequences laboratories promptly. The contacts of these international passengers must be closely tracked and tested as per the guidelines of the Health Ministry Bhushan said.

    "lt has now been reported by NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control) that multiple cases of a COVID-19 variant 8.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Honk Kong (1 case). 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," Bhushan said.

    "lt is therefore imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the "at risk" Country Category of international travellers coming to India) and also including all other 'at risk' countries indicated in the revised Guidelines for international Arrivals issued by this Ministry dated 11.11.2021, are subjected to rigorous screening and testing, as per MoHFW Guidelines. The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines," the letter also said.

    The new variant feared to have a high amount of spike mutations which is unseen before has been detected in South Africa and other countries. Authorities have confirmed 22 positive vases associated with it.

    Twenty-two positive cases of the new variant - called B.1.1.529 - have been recorded in South Africa following genomic sequencing collaborations between the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, and private laboratories.

    "It is not surprising that a new variant has been detected in South Africa," said Prof Adrian Puren, NICD Acting Executive Director.

    "Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date," Puren added.

    Detected cases and per cent testing positive are both increasing quickly, particularly in the most populated provinces of Gauteng, North West and Limpopo.

    Dr Michelle Groome, Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the NICD, said that provincial health authorities remain on high alert and are prioritising the sequencing of COVID-19 positive samples.

    She stressed that regardless of the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions remains unchanged and the public are urged to be responsible.

    This means that individuals should get vaccinated, wear masks, practice healthy hand hygiene, maintain social distancing, and gather in well ventilated spaces, she added.

    (With PTI inputs)

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