SA reports four cases of India virus variant, new infections up by over 2 000

SA reports four cases of India virus variant, new infections up by over 2 000

The Health Department has confirmed that four cases of the coronavirus variant fuelling the devastating surge of Covid-19 in India have been recorded in the country.

Coronavirus test
Coronavirus test/ iStock

"The four cases of B.1.617.2 have been detected in (the provinces of) Gauteng (2) and KwaZulu-Natal (2) and all have a history of recent arrival from India," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his latest statement late Saturday.

Eleven cases of another variant first detected in the United Kingdom and known as B.1.1.7 have also been found, the statement added, noting that community transmission of that variant had "already set in".

South Africa is at least the fourth country on the continent to pick up the B.1.617.2 variant, alongside Kenya, Uganda and Morocco.

India is grappling with an explosive coronavirus outbreak widely attributed to the variant, which has now been found in more than a dozen countries worldwide.

South Africa has not yet joined the growing number of countries worldwide that have banned flights from India to limit the spread of its variant.

Mkhize said travel restrictions would "need to be balanced against scientific realities" to protect the country's economy.

An announcement will be made once the cabinet has consulted on the matter, he added.

Meanwhile, the country has recorded more than 2,000 new infections for a fourth consecutive day.

Since Mkhize's previous report, 2,191 new cases were recorded, while an additional 37 deaths were also reported.

The majority of those deaths - 21 - were recorded in Gauteng. 

Mkhize earlier this week raised the alarm over "a worrying trend of increasing numbers of detected cases" in certain provinces.

He warned of a looming third wave of infections likely to coincide with the upcoming southern hemisphere winter. 

To date, the country has recorded more than 1.59 million coronavirus cases, of which more than 54,700 have been fatal.


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