A new Sars-Cov-2 variant from southern Africa worries experts. Israel has therefore decided on travel restrictions.
Update from Thursday, November 25th, 2021, 10:00 p.m.: Out of concern about the B.1.1529 variant of the coronavirus, Israel imposed immediate travel restrictions for several African countries on Thursday (November 25th, 2021). South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini have been classified as “red countries”.
Foreigners are no longer allowed to enter Israel from these countries, the statement said. Israelis who returned from these countries would have to be in quarantine in a Corona hotel for up to 14 days. However, after a week, they could test themselves free with two negative PCR tests.
New Corona variant worries scientists: B.1.1.529 gives “cause for concern”
First report from Thursday, November 25th, 2021, 4:01 p.m.: Johannesburg – It has been quiet lately about mutations of the corona virus since the delta variant conquered the world in the summer, more or less displaced all other types of the virus and for a worsening of the pandemic, especially in Europe. Delta shows an extremely high infectivity and has displaced or eliminated all other mutants. However, due to this circumstance, one cannot assume that Delta is the last supervised variant of the virus.
According to experts, a new variant of the corona virus has now been discovered in South Africa. The variant with the scientific name B.1.1.529 “has a very high number of mutations,” said the virologist Tulio de Oliveira at a press conference on Thursday (25.11.2021). You give “cause for concern” in the country. The effectiveness of the previously known vaccines against this virus variant is still unclear, according to the scientist.
New Corona variant can be detected with a PCR test
De Oliveira reported that B.1.1.529 can now be detected in practically all provinces of South Africa. At least some good news is that because of the special mutations in B.1.1.529, no sequencing is required to identify the variant, but normal PCR tests are sufficient.
So far, the variant has also been discovered in Botswana and Hong Kong among travelers from South Africa. Health Minister Joe Phaahla described the variant as “seriously worrying” and as the cause of an “exponential” increase in reported cases in South Africa. The number of infections reported daily rose to more than 1200 on Wednesday (November 24th, 2021). At the beginning of the month there were only around 100 new infections.
According to scientists, the new variant has at least ten mutations – in comparison with the delta variant there are only two, with beta three. “What worries us is that this variant could not only have increased transferability, i.e. spread more efficiently, but could also be able to bypass parts of the immune system and the protection we have in our immune system”, said the expert Richard Lessell.
New Corona variant B.1.1.529 is spreading quickly
The first cases of variant B.1.1.529 were registered in Botswana on November 11, the earliest case in South Africa followed three days later. The case found in Hong Kong was a 36-year-old man who had a negative PCR test before flying from Hong Kong to South Africa, where he stayed from October 22 to November 11. When he returned to Hong Kong, the test was negative, while he tested positive in quarantine on November 13.
The beta variant of the virus was discovered in South Africa last year. With around 2.95 million corona cases and more than 89,600 deaths, South Africa is the hardest-hit country in Africa.
EU health authority calls for vaccinations
In view of the increasing number of corona infections, the EU health authority has called on the member states to “urgently” vaccinate more people against the corona virus. There is a “large vaccination pick” that gives the virus “plenty of room to spread,” warned the director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrea Ammon, on Wednesday. She recommended booster vaccinations for all adults over the age of 18 – “with priority for people over 40”.
In the EU, 67.7 percent of the population is currently fully vaccinated, but vaccination rates vary widely from country to country. For example, only 24.2 percent of the Bulgarian population is vaccinated at least twice, while the figure in Portugal is 86.7 percent. (skr / afp)
Rubric: © Clara Margais / dpa