Renewed uncertainty about tight lockdowns ahead of Dec due to new variant

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has on Thursday confirmed 22 cases of the COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.529.

This undated handout picture courtesy of the British Health Protection Agency shows the coronavirus seen under an electron microscope. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Amid concern around a new coronavirus variant in South Africa, there's renewed uncertainty about tighter lockdown regulations ahead of the December holidays.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has on Thursday confirmed 22 cases of the COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.529.

The mutation has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said it's too early to predict the line of action regarding COVID-19 elated restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

“There will be government meetings and command council meetings this weekend to look at the impact of this on the economic side.”

He said the new coronavirus variant could become a major challenge as social activities are expected to increase during the festive season.

“From the experience of the last 21 months or so, we can predict how this will move in the coming weeks and you can rest assured that when people start moving in, this will be all over.”

Phaahla has once again called on South Africans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.