Social Security systems expert Professor Alex van den Heever has called on the public to continue to strictly adhere to COVID-19 health protocols to help prevent the possible spread of new virus variants.

This comes as the National Ports Authority confirms that 14 Filipino crew members onboard a ship in the Durban harbour have tested positive for COVID-19.

The vessel arrived from India on Sunday. There are also concerns around a COVID-19 infected traveller from India who recently entered South Africa.

Professor van den Heever says social gatherings must be avoided.

“In India, it’s not the variant necessarily that has driven their big second wave, it has been that they have had completely unrestricted religious festivals that were massive super spreader events and they have also had political gatherings etc. In an SA context, we have to watch that. We saw that when we introduced restrictions, that limited and targeted super spreading events, we immediately experienced a decline in the pandemic in December/January. So the issue is not the variants but what we are doing domestically to prevent super spreading.”

Prof van den Heever on concerns of new variants:

SA will not be able to completely close its borders

Professor van den Heever says South Africa will not be able to completely close its borders for a long period of time in efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“I think ultimately it is not going to be possible to prevent the virus from entering our borders. We can’t keep our borders completely closed and that applies to many other countries. A few countries can, such as Australia and New Zealand, close their borders for long periods of time as part of their prevention strategies but it is not realistic with the protracted pandemic of this kind. What our major focus should be is preventing super spreading events from driving waves of infection. That has to be our focus going forward as it causes the problem.”

Health Ministry notes concerns about variant found in India being imported to SA

The Health Ministry has noted concerns on social media about the possible import into South Africa of the variant of the coronavirus found in India. The Asian nation is battling a massive surge in cases.

The ministry has assured South Africans that there are no direct flights from India to South Africa and authorities are maintaining strict measures to try and ensure that new variants of the virus do not enter the country.

Professor Ramneek Ahluwalia, CEO of Higher Health, shares more: