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South Africa Detects New COVID-19 Variant With Multiple Mutations

COVID-19 Variant

November 25, (THEWILL) – Scientists in South Africa have detected a new Covid-19 variant with multiple mutations, blaming it for a surge in infection numbers.

“Unfortunately we have detected a new variant which is a reason for concern in South Africa” virologist Tulio de Oliveira said in an emergency  news conference on Thursday.

The variant, which goes by the scientific lineage number B.1.1.529, “has a very high number of mutations”, he added.

It has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong among travellers from South Africa, he said.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was of “serious concern” and behind an “exponential” increase in reported cases

Earlier today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officials met to discuss the emergence of the new South Africa variant

The variant, according to a statement by Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute published in the Science Media Centre, possibly evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised, likely in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.

As many as 22 cases of the new variant have been reported in South Africa so far, stated the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Data is limited and scientists are still working to find more about its potential transmissibility. However, a few reports have claimed that the new variant from South Africa could be worse than the Delta variant, which was the cause behind the horrific second wave of pandemic in India..

Daily infections shot to more than 1,200 cases on Wednesday, from around 100 earlier this month.

South Africa last year detected the Beta variant of the virus although until now infection numbers have been driven by the Delta variant, which was originally detected in India.

South Africa has the highest pandemic numbers in Africa, notching up around 2.95 million cases, of which 89,657 have been fatal.