Centre Issues Warning To States And UTs Against New Covid-19 Strain

REPRESENTATIVE

The centre, in its letter, said that multiple cases of the new variant were reported in Botswana (3), South Africa (6), and Hong Kong (1).

The Centre issued advisories to all states and Union territories warning them to be extra careful with international passengers travelling through Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong after a new Covid-19 variant ‘B.1.1529’ was detected by South African scientists.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to states and union territories, “It is imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries and also including all other ‘at risk’ countries are subjected to rigorous screening and testing. The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested”.

The update comes at a time when the pandemic situation in the country was improving, he added. The centre, in its letter, said that multiple cases of the new variant were reported in Botswana (3), South Africa (6), and Hong Kong (1).

It said, “This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations and thus has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel”.

Notably, scientists from South Africa have identified a new variant and classified it as ‘concerning’ as it has usual mutations which would help it evade the body’s immune system, making it more transmissible.

Director of UCL Genetics Institute, Francois Balloux said in a statement that the new variant had possibly evolved during the chronic infection of an immuno-compromised, and likely in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.

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