B.1.617 variant not detected in SA yet but authorities on alert - Mkhize

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that this 'increase in detection at ports of entry is of deep concern' and he promised that government was attending to the matter with urgency.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize (right) at briefing at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg on 20 April 2021. Picture: @GautengHealth/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that while the B.1.617 variant circulating widely in India had not been detected in South Africa yet, genomics teams were working on some samples to determine whether South Africa has been impacted.

The minister said that an air traveller who had recently returned from India via Doha was currently in isolation at a health facility after falling ill, while two others were currently asymptomatic and were isolating after travelling to that country.

READ: Mkhize: SA has measures in place to deal with COVID-19 variant found in India

All the crew on board a vessel which returned from India and arrived in Durban on Sunday have been quarantined after 14 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

A person who died on board had been sent for a postmortem but due to sampling difficulties, authorities were still waiting for test results.

ALSO READ: Ship quarantined in Durban port after 14 crew members test positive for COVID-19

Mkhize said that this "increase in detection at ports of entry is of deep concern" and he promised that government was attending to the matter with urgency.

His spokesperson, Lwazi Manzi: "We have consulted the genomics teams and the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 so that we can get scientific guidance on how to deal with any potential risk of importation of variants of concern and also to be guided by science on managing travellers that come from countries where variants of concern are circulating widely."

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.