World Health Organization meets on Friday to valuate a new variant detected in South Africa that is feared to be the worst Covid-19 variant yet identified.
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This meeting will ascertain if the B.
529 variant should be designated a variant of ‘interest’ or of ‘concern’.
The variant which was identified on Tuesday, initially attracted attention because it carries an extremely high number of mutations.
Some World leaders have hastily responded by issuing new precautions and travel restrictions, while markets around the world saw falls sparked by the uncertainty.
Indian health officials on Friday put states on alert, asking them to carry out “rigorous screening and testing” of travellers who had arrived from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong and to trace and test their contacts.
Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan urged all states to ensure that samples from Covid-positive travellers were swiftly sent to genome sequencing labs for testing.
Singapore, a major transit hub, said on Friday it would restrict arrivals from South Africa and countries nearby.
All non-Singaporean or non-permanent residents with recent travel history to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will be denied entry or transit through Singapore, its health ministry said.
Italy announced a similar entry ban on Friday.
“Our scientists are studying the new B.
In the meantime, we will adopt the greatest possible caution,” health minister Roberto Speranza said.
Japan also will clamp down on border controls for visitors from South Africa and five other African countries, the Jiji news service reported.
Robertson, said the new variant was “a real wake-up call for all of us, that this pandemic is still going and reiterated the need to continue with caution.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said in a press briefing on Thursday: “We don’t know very much about this [variant] yet.
What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations.
And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves.
The infectious disease epidemiologist said that researchers would meet to “understand where these mutations are and what this potentially may mean” in terms of whether it is more transmissible or has potential to evade immunity.
A high number of mutations does not necessarily make a variant more transmissible.
In August, similar concerns emerged about a variant in South Africa, known as C.
2, but it was never listed as a variant of interest or concern.
In Japan, some experts believe the country’s pronounced fall in cases was down to mutations that drove it toward natural extinction
WHO to assess new Covid-19 variant that strain record