The Acting Executive Director for the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Professor Adrian Puren, says COVID-19 travel restrictions need to be balanced with the need to grow the economy.
Prof Puren says there should be a fine balance to manage the situation especially as coronavirus variants are in circulation worldwide.
The Department says, “The Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) confirmed today that 2 variants of concern, other than the B.1.351 already dominating in South Africa, have been detected. These are B.1.1.7 (first detected in the UK) – 11 cases and B.1.617.2 (first detected in India) – 4 cases.”
“In addition, the B.1.351 (first detected here in South Africa) has been sequenced from a patient travelling from Bangladesh.”
The statement says, “The four cases of B.1.617.2 have been detected in Gauteng (2) and KwaZulu-Natal (2) and all have a history of a recent arrival from India. All cases have been isolated and managed according to national
COVID-19 case management guidelines and contact tracing has been performed in order to limit the
spread of this variant.”
Regarding the variant first identified in the UK, the Department says, “Of the eleven cases of B.1.1.7, eight were detected in the Western Cape (with two having a history of travel from Bahrain), one was detected in KwaZulu-Natal and two were detected in Gauteng.”
Prof Puren says it’s a tough situation.
“As you note the variants are in circulation even though there are specific restrictions from various countries. The variants are in circulation, it’s really how we manage that particular scenario. For example, in the UK and other countries, it’s really either to have the results of PCR or either test, quarantine or isolate or test during that particular period and release those particular individuals.”
Prof Puren also says the country will experience new coronavirus variants in various geographic areas.
Prof Puren spoke to the SABC in the video below: