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Health Dept: No B.1.617 COVID Variant Detected & No Direct Flights from India to SA

May 03, 2021

Faizel Patel – 03/05/2021

(Twitter: @FaizelPatel143)

The Health Department says it has not detected the B.1.617 variant as yet in South Africa.

Concerns have been raised with the department and on social media regarding the possible importation of the B.1.617 variant circulating in India.

In a statement, health minister Zweli Mkhize says they are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment.

“We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19.”

Mkhize says the department has consulted with members of the the genomics team who are monitoring the situation.

“They have intensified their surveillance not only to ensure that variant can be detected quickly but also to understand what the implications are for us in the context of B.1.351 being the dominant variant in South Africa. This work is ongoing and we commit to continue to be guided by science.”

Mkhize says the department has also consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee to provide advice on the approach to management of travelers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern.

“Their advise will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce these determinations in due course.”

Mkhize has urged South Africans to remain calm and continue to adhere to the health protocols, as the country tightens containment  measures at ports of entry and keep a balance and maintains economic activity.

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