Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that the government is on ‘high alert’ this week, after a number of incidents reported in the past 24 hours raised fears about the arrival of a new coronavirus variant on our shores. The B.1.617 strain, colloquially termed the ‘Indian variant’ due to where it was discovered, carries a mutation that may be driving a new deadly wave.
Minister Mkhize urges calm over Indian variant (B.1.617)
India has been decimated by a rapid spread of new cases, a spike in deaths, and hospitals that are overwhelmed by demand. What is more, the suspected mutation shares the troublesome EK484 protein – as seen in the 501Y.V2 strain. The Health Minister and his colleagues are taking the threat seriously, but there may be a spanner in the works.
A number of incidents – which have the potential to bring the Indian variant into South Africa – have been reported on both Monday and Tuesday. According to Mkhize, scientific advisors are now deciding how to handle possible ‘variants of concern’, should genomic sequencing discover if the so-called ‘double-mutation’ is now among us.
“All our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19. The government remained on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment.”
“Government has consulted members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee to advise on the approach to managing travellers from countries that have variants of concern. Their advice will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce in due course.”
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The IPL has been cancelled… bringing Proteas stars back home from India
Those travelling back to South Africa will undergo home quarantine in line with the current World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. CSA and the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) are in contact with all players and are assured of their safety and comfort in their respective locations. The CSA says that it supports the decision.
A traveller from India has arrived in South Africa WITH COVID-19
A traveller from India tested positive for COVID-19 after landing in South Africa this week. The news is particularly significant, given that they were able to reach our shores while potentially carrying a virus. The patient is now in an isolated facility in KZN, and further tests are being carried out on Tuesday.
Cargo ship from India docks in Durban with ‘many COVID-positive workers’
As TimesLive report, an Indian cargo ship that docked in Durban harbour on Sunday is being quarantined. This follows the death of a crew member on board, after 14 workers on the vessel returned positive COVID-19 tests. It’s understood that scores of port workers have been on and off the boat before the shutdown – handling large shipments of rice.