Johannesburg – Just weeks after flights resumed between South African and the UK, South Africa is expected to be placed back on the UK’s red list following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant.
UK Secretary of State Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said they are taking precautions.
“@UKHSA is investigating a new variant. More data is needed but we’re taking precautions now. From noon tomorrow (Friday) six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travellers must quarantine,” he tweeted.
On Thursday, the Department of Health announced that more than 20 cases of the variant named B.1.1.529 had been detected in SA.
Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday, infectious diseases specialist, Richard Lessells, said epidemiological data suggested that a sustained increase in Covid-19 incidence across Gauteng, possibly fuelled by cluster outbreaks.
He said the new variant was detected in multiple samples across Gauteng.
Professor Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (Krisp), said the good news was that the new variant can be detected quickly.
“We can make some predictions about the impact of the mutations and we are making many here from our scientific knowledge during this pandemic. But the full significance remains uncertain in the vaccines (as a) critical tool to protect us against disease,” said de Oliveira.