India on alert after new variant of Covid was detected in Africa.
The Center has asked states to carry out rigorous screening and testing of all international travelers to and from Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
This comes after a new variant of the coronavirus was detected in South Africa, which scientists say is a concern due to its high number of mutations and its rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province.
The Center has asked states to closely monitor and test the contacts of international travelers. While South Africa has reported six cases, Botswana has detected three cases of the new variant. One person was found to be infected in Hong Kong. The new variant has been identified as B.1.1.529.
“It is therefore imperative that all international travelers traveling to and from these countries (they are part of the ‘at risk’ category of international travelers coming to India) and that they also include all Other countries “at-risk” located in the revised guidelines for international arrivals issued by this ministry on 11.11.2021 are subject to rigorous examinations and tests, according to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, “said on Thursday the Secretary of Health, Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter to all states and UT.
The Secretary of Health also urged states to ensure that samples from travelers that test positive are sent to INSACOG’s genome sequencing laboratories promptly in accordance with Ministry guidelines.
In addition, state surveillance officers have also been asked to establish close coordination with their designated or labeled genome sequencing laboratories to expedite genomic analysis results, to ensure that states and UT can take the necessary public health measures. in the presence of variants of interest. is reported.
The dramatic increase in new infections in Africa
The coronavirus evolves as it spreads, and many new variants, including those with worrisome mutations, often simply disappear. Scientists monitor possible changes that could be more communicable or deadly, but determining whether the new variants will have an impact on public health can take time.
South Africa has seen a dramatic increase in new infections. For the last four or five days, there has been a more exponential increase. The new variant seems to be driving the increase in cases in the country. After a relatively low transmission period in which South Africa recorded just over 200 new confirmed cases per day, last week daily new cases rose rapidly to over 1,200 on Wednesday. On Thursday they jumped to 2,465. The first spike occurred in Pretoria and the surrounding metropolitan area of Tshwane and appeared to be cluster outbreaks of student gatherings at area universities.
Scientists in South Africa are working to determine what percentage of the new cases have been caused by the new variant.
Low vaccination rates in Africa
The South African government had warned that a new resurgence was expected from mid-December to early January and hoped to prepare for that by vaccinating many more people. About 41 percent of South African adults have been vaccinated and the number of injections given per day is relatively low, less than 1.30,000, significantly below the government’s goal of 3.00,000 per day. South Africa currently has about 16.5 million doses of vaccines, from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, in the country and expects the delivery of about 2.5 million more next week.
Meanwhile, the technical working group of the World Health Organization will meet on Friday to evaluate the new variant and can decide whether or not to give it a name from the Greek alphabet.
In another related development, the British government has announced that it will ban flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries from noon on Friday and that anyone who has recently arrived from those countries will be required to undergo a coronavirus test. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there were concerns that the new variant “might be more transmissible” than the dominant delta strain, and that “the vaccines we currently have may be less effective” against it.