A new COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.529 has been detected by South African scientists.
This was disclosed in a statement made available on the official website of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
It was further revealed that twenty-two of positive cases of variant B.1.1.529 have been recorded across the country.
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South African official news agency also quoted renowned bioinformatician, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, to have said “Unfortunately, we have detected a new variant, which is a reason for concern in SA. The variant has a very high number of mutations”.
Speaking in a press conference, Oliveira added, “What we see is this very unusual constellation of mutations, multiple mutations across the genome with more than 30 mutations.”
“Here is a mutation variant of serious concern,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla also said.
According to the NICD Acting Executive Director, Prof Adrian Puren, the agency (NICD) is working alongside other agencies to have a better understanding of the new variant and its ‘potential implication’.
In his words, “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.”