Genomics researchers in South Africa have discovered a new type of coronavirus, called 501.V2, the South African Minister of Health said.
A new variant of Covid-19 has been identified by a team of genomics scientists in South Africa, South African Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said on December 18.
A particular variant dubbed 501.V2 has increasingly dominated the results of samples taken over the past two months, the minister added, noting that hundreds of samples from across the country since the start of the pandemic in March were sequenced by the Kwazulu-Natal Institute for Research and Sequencing Innovation (KRISP).
Commenting on the results, South African epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim pointed out that the second wave of the coronavirus the country is currently experiencing is showing early signs of a faster spread than the first wave.
‘Preliminary data suggests that the virus that now dominates in the second wave is spreading faster than in the first wave. It is not clear if the second wave has more or fewer deaths; in other words, the degree of severity is still very uncertain,’ it sounds.
South Africa has experienced a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections for a few weeks. A total of 8,725 positive cases have been registered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to over 900,000 cases.
Earlier this week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced new restrictions aimed at dealing with this “worrying rise” in new cases.
He pointed out that a stricter application of the level 1 restrictions of pandemic alert will be observed across the country during the holiday season and beyond, noting that the measures currently in force regarding gatherings are not sufficient to prevent transmissions.