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'Serious concern' as South Africa detects new coronavirus variant

South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to...

👤 H K Badal25 Nov 2021 5:52 PM GMT
Serious concern as South Africa detects new coronavirus variant
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South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications.

The variant – called B.1.1.529 – has a "very unusual constellation" of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body's immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference on Nov 25.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said 22 positive cases of the new variant have been recorded in the country following genomic sequencing.

"Unfortunately we have detected a new variant which is a reason for concern in South Africa," virologist Tulio de Oliveira told a news conference.

The variant "has a very high number of mutations", he said. "It's unfortunately causing a resurgence of infections," he added.

It has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong among travellers from South Africa, he said.