The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has urged South Africans to remain calm following the the following the emergence of the B.1.1.529 , a new super variant of COVID-19.
The NICD on Thursday confirmed that 22 cases of the new variant had also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was of “serious concern” and behind an “exponential” increase in reported cases, making it “a major threat”.
Acting Executive Director of the NICD Adrian Puren says, while the new variant detected in South Africa was unforeseen, it was not a complete surprise as viral mutations are a natural occurrence.
“With limited data on the variant available present, experts at the NICD continue to work tirelessly around the clock to get a better understanding of the variant. Until information is available, the public should remain calm and familiarise themselves with facts citing credible sources.”
Puren says the most effective way to limit the transmissibility of COVID-19 is to follow preventive measures and non-medical interventions including the wearing masks and social distancing.
He has also urged South Africans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
On Friday, a number of countries have banned flights from South Africa following the emergence of the B.1.1.529 variant.