'Not true': South Africa denies new covid variant is deadlier than UK's strain
Johannesburg, Dec 25: Responding to the UK's health minister Matt Hancock claimed the new variant of coronavirus found in South Africa is deadlier, his counterpart Zwelini Mkhize has denied these claims.
In a statement, South Africa's health minister Zwelini Mkhize said "At present, there is no evidence that the 501.V2 (variant) is more transmissible than the United Kingdom variant -- as suggested by the British Health Secretary."
"There is also no evidence that (it) causes more severe disease or increased mortality than the UK variant or any variant that has been sequenced around the world".
Two cases of another new strain of COVID-19 linked to South Africa have been identified in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed here on Wednesday.
Like the UK variant identified earlier, the new variant of the novel coronavirus is also driving a massive resurgence of the disease in South Africa, with experts warning the country is probably facing a much larger second wave.
"Both [cases of the new variant] are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks," Hancock said, addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Street.
"This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK," he said.
The minister confirmed immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa and the government's urgent message being for anyone who has been in South Africa or been in contact with someone linked with the country in the last fortnight to immediately quarantine.