NICD: Suspending flights from India won't prevent spread of variant to SA

The health crisis in India is at tipping point, with over 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

People are seen next to burning pyres of victims who lost their lives due to the COVID-19 coronavirus at an open crematorium in Bangalore, India, on 26 April 2021. Picture: Manjunath Kiran/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The acting director at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) Adrian Puren on Tuesday said suspending flights from India wouldn’t necessarily prevent the variant first detected in that country from spreading to our shores.

The health crisis in India is at tipping point, with over 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

Health facilities are battling with long queues of patients in dire need of hospital beds and medical oxygen.

The new B.1.617 variant has been detected in that country with many European nations taking action to stop it from spreading to their citizens.

READ: India's young fight the pandemic with apps and oxygen

Puren said there were many considerations experts had to weigh before taking any drastic steps in South Africa.

“I’m sure they will make an announcement soon as to whether a restriction to stop flights from India, it’s not going to be a straightforward thing.”

READ: 'Act now': Africa medics warn of India-like COVID surge

With a third wave on its way, there are predictions that Gauteng will be hit the hardest.

Puren said it was uncertain when this would be: “With Gauteng, the question is because of the high-level of density, [which] may possibly contribute to that.”

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