South Africa discovers a new Covid variant with a large number of mutations.
South African scientists announced on Thursday that they had discovered a new Covid-19 type with a huge number of mutations, blaming it for an increase in infection rates.
Since the beginning of the month, the number of daily infections in Africa’s worst-affected country has surged tenfold.
As a result of the growing fear over the new form, Britain has banned all travel from the country and five other southern African countries. Scientists believe it could be more contagious than Delta and resistant to present vaccines.
“Unfortunately, we have discovered a novel variety that is causing alarm in South Africa,” virologist Tulio de Oliveira said at a hurriedly convened press briefing.
The variety, known scientifically as B.1.1.529, “has a very high number of mutations,” he said, adding that the World Health Organization might designate it a Greek variant name on Friday, similar to the prevalent Delta strain.
He stated, “Unfortunately, it’s generating a recurrence of illnesses.”
The mutation has also been seen in Botswana and Hong Kong among South African travelers, according to de Oliveira.
The WHO said it is “closely watching” the reported variant and will meet on Friday to decide if it should be classified as a “interesting” or “concerning” variant.
“Early investigation reveals that this variation contains a substantial number of changes that necessitate and will be studied further,” the WHO noted.
South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla described the variation as a “significant menace” that was causing a “exponential” spike in reported cases.
On Wednesday, the country’s daily infection rate reached 1,200, up from 106 earlier in the month.
Authorities had projected a fourth wave to hit South Africa starting around the middle of December, boosted by travel ahead of the festive season, before the discovery of the new variety.
The government-run National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported that 22 people in the country have tested positive for the new variety.
According to the NICD, the number of cases found and the percentage of those who tested positive are “growing rapidly” in three of the country’s provinces, including Gauteng, which includes the economic metropolis Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.
According to the NICD, a cluster epidemic was recently found, centered on a higher education institute in Pretoria.
The virus’s Beta version first appeared in South Africa last year, while its infection numbers had previously been pushed by Delta, which was discovered in India.
With the greatest epidemic numbers in Africa, South Africa is the place to go. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.