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S/Africa on high alert after India Covid-19 surge – Minister

South Africa's coronavirus pandemic watchdogs are on high alert to detect new variants from India, especially the highly transmissible B.1.617…

South Africa’s coronavirus pandemic watchdogs are on high alert to detect new variants from India, especially the highly transmissible B.1.617 variant which has been devastating the sub-continent since April, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.The minister said the move comes as India continued to experience a resurgence of Covid-19 cases attributed in part to the circulation of different variants, including the deadly B.1.617 which has reportedly crossed to other countries.

Due to this, Mkhize said Pretoria had now banned all flights from India to South Africa. 

“All our ports of entry have employed stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of the Covid-19,” he said.

He added that his government remained on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment once they enter the country from abroad.

While the Indian variant was yet to be detected in South Africa, the country’s genomics team members had informed government that they had intensified surveillance, to not only ensure detection of the virus, but to also understand its implications.

The government had also consulted members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee of Covid-19 to advise on the approach to manage travellers from countries that have variants of concern, the minister said.

“Their advice will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce in due course,” he said.

South Africa has lost more than 54,450 people to the virus since the disease broke out in the country in March 2020. 

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