Advertisement

India

Updated on: Friday, November 26, 2021, 06:03 PM IST

'Don't have any immediate information': MEA after new COVID-19 variant emerges in southern Africa; watch video

'Don't have any immediate information': MEA after new COVID-19 variant emerges in southern Africa; watch video  | AFP File Photo

'Don't have any immediate information': MEA after new COVID-19 variant emerges in southern Africa; watch video | AFP File Photo

Advertisement

South African scientists have identified a new version of the coronavirus this week that they say is behind a recent spike in COVID-19 infections in Gauteng, the country's most populous province.

It's unclear from where the new variant actually arose, but it was first detected by scientists in South Africa and has also been seen in travelers to Hong Kong and Botswana.

Health minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was linked to an "exponential rise" of cases in the last few days, although experts are still trying to determine if the new variant, named B.1.1.529 is actually responsible.

Sharon Peacock, who has led genetic sequencing of COVID-19 in Britain at the University of Cambridge, said the data so far suggest the new variant has mutations "consistent with enhanced transmissibility," but said that "the significance of many of the mutations is still not known." She said it would take several weeks to do the necessary lab tests to determine if current coronavirus vaccines are still effective against the new variant. Peacock also said there was no indication that the variant causes more lethal disease.

Reacting to this new development, a slew of nations moved to stop air travel from southern Africa on Friday, and stocks plunged in Asia and Europe in reaction to news of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant.

The U.K. announced that it was banning flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday, and that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test.

Germany said its flight ban could be enacted as soon as Friday night. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said airlines coming back from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens home, and travelers will need to go into quarantine for 14 days whether they are vaccinated or not.

Italy's health ministry also announced measures to ban entry into Italy of anyone who has been in seven southern African nations - South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini - in the past 14 days due to the new variant. The Netherlands is planning similar measures.

Meanwhile, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it doesn't have any immediate information.

"This is a developing incident. We just saw a briefing by WHO. I don't have any immediate information on the steps that we are taking. This is an issue more for our Health authorities & Civil Aviation authorities...," news agency ANI quoted MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi as saying.

Watch Video:

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Advertisement
Published on: Friday, November 26, 2021, 06:03 PM IST
Advertisement