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Virologist: No need to panic as SA records case of COVID variant detected in UK

Tulio de Oliveira said while the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was a major concern in that country, it did not appear to be spreading fast in South Africa.

© jarun011/123rf.com

DURBAN - Leading KwaZulu-Natal-based virologist Tulio de Oliveira has cautioned against panic following the local detection of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

De Oliveira was among leading experts at a virtual media briefing hosted by the World Health Organization.

He said while the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was a major concern in that country, it did not appear to be spreading fast in South Africa.

The COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant detected in the United Kingdom is believed to be over 56% more contagious and has already been detected in over 55 countries.

Virologist De Oliveira said: “Today, we have detected an imported case of the B1.1.7 that is the variant of concern that is in the UK.”

He said more variants of COVID-19 should be expected, but that there was no need for panic.

“It’s quite common. We are still going to have introduction of new lineages and in the case that they come to spread very fast, then we will communicate that it could be a variant of concern."

De Oliveira said the emergence of new COVID-19 variants highlighted the need for greater cooperation among countries in the fight against the virus.

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