No case of the new Coronavirus variant – B.1.1.529, which has been causing an increase in infections in South Africa, has been reported in India so far, as per the news agency ANI. The B.1.1.529 variant has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong and South Africa but the authorities in these countries are concerned by its high number of mutations that could evade the body’s immune response and become more transmissible.
The World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) will meet today to discuss the new variant of the novel Coronavirus. The TAG-VE will deliberate on whether this variant will be classified as a variant of interest or a variant of concern.
“We don’t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves,” WHO’s technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said.
On Thursday, the Union Health Ministry issued an alert for the B.1.1.529 variant and asked states and union territories to undertake “rigorous screening and testing” of all international travellers landing in India from ‘at risk’ countries.
“This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
(With agency inputs)
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