Scientists in South Africa had detected a new Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations. They blame it for a surge in infection numbers. The number of daily infections in Africa’s hardest-hit country has increased tenfold since the start of the month. Unfortunately, we have detected a new variant which is a reason for concern in South Africa, virologist Tulio de Oliveira told a hastily-called news conference. The variant, which goes by the scientific lineage number B.1.1.529, has a very high number of mutations,” he said, expressing hope that the World Health Organization will give it a Greek name on Friday. It’s, unfortunately, causing a resurgence of infections,” he said.
The variant has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong among travelers from South Africa. The WHO said it is closely monitoring the reported variant and is expected to convene a technical meeting. To determine if it should be designated a variant of interest or of concern. South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was of serious concern. It was behind an exponential increase in reported cases, making it a major threat. The country’s daily number of infections hit 1,200 on Wednesday, up from 106 earlier in the month.
Before the detection of the new covid variant in South Africa, authorities had predicted a fourth wave to hit the country.
Before the detection of the new variant, authorities had predicted a fourth wave to hit South Africa. It would start around the middle of December and travel ahead of the festive season. The government-run National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said 22 positive cases of the B.1.1.529 variant have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing. The NICD said the number of detected cases and the percentage of testing positive increased quickly. It increased in three of the country’s provinces including Gauteng and the capital Pretoria.
A cluster outbreak recently identified concentrated at a higher education institute in Pretoria. Last year South Africa also detected the Beta variant of the virus. Although until now its infection numbers are driven by the Delta variant, which was originally detected in India. The country has the highest pandemic numbers in Africa with around 2.95 million cases.