Closing Borders Won’t Stop Spread of New Coronavirus Variants
The closure of borders does not stop the spread of new coronavirus variants, a health expert has said.
The convener of South Africa’s Progressive Health Forum, Dr Aslam Dasoo said this after variants that first emerged in India and the UK have now been discovered in Zimbabwe’s neighbour. He said:
Variants are part of the natural life cycle of viruses as we know. The variants that have caused a lot of consternation are those that increase transmission of the virus.
There are serious investigations to see whether the variant detected in India can increase transmission and virulence. Added Dasoo:
The upsurge in India indicates that this is indeed the case because you would not be able to find that kind of transmission from the original founder virus.
Dasoo goes on to say that it is very clear that this is not the last of the variants that will emerge.
This comes after South Africa’s Department of Health confirmed that four people have tested positive for the COVID-19 variant found in India.
The Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) confirmed on Saturday that the four cases of B.1.617.2 were detected in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize urged members of the public not to panic, saying as the epidemic progresses, the detection of new variants is inevitable. He said:
It is important to emphasise that variants can develop at any time in any country so they do not have to be imported.
We reiterate that there is no need for panic, as the fundamentals of the public health response (testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine) have not changed.
We all have a responsibility to adhere to prevention measures (avoiding large gatherings, physical distancing, mask-wearing, ventilation and hand sanitation) in order to limit the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa.
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