Updated on: Thursday, November 25, 2021, 11:22 PM IST

COVID-19: New variant 'Botswana' detected in South Africa; Centre sounds alert for fliers coming from SA, Hong Kong

Covid-19 Delta variant  | File Image

Covid-19 Delta variant | File Image


New Delhi: India on Thursday sounded an alert for fliers coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana where a new variant of COVID-19 has been detected with multiple mutations that have led to a surge in infections. In an urgent missive to states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has asked them to ensure that the travellers from these countries are subjected to rigorous screening and, if they test positive, rush the samples to designated genome sequencing laboratories.

The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per Health Ministry guidelines, he said. ‘‘This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, especially in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel," the letter reads.

The new variant is feared to have a high amount of spike mutations unseen before; SA authorities have confirmed 22 positive cases associated with it thus far. The number of daily infections in Africa's hardest-hit country has increased tenfold since the start of the month. A virologist at Imperial College London, Dr Tom Peacock, had posted details of the new variant classed as B.1.1.529 on his Twitter account earlier this week, following which scientists have been weighing in on what is being considered a variant of concern though it is yet to be formally categorised in the UK.

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Published on: Thursday, November 25, 2021, 11:22 PM IST