WHO says COVID-19 strain discovered in SA is a “variant of concern”

President Cyril Ramaphosa will now be meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council on Saturday to discuss these developments.The meeting was initially set for Sunday.

FILE: WHO says new Coronavirus strain first detected here in South Africa as a “variant of concern”. Picture: © subbotina/123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - The World Health Organization has designated the new Coronavirus strain first detected here in South Africa as a “variant of concern”, prompting countries around the world to impose travel restrictions amid fears over its potential spread.

The Health Organisation's advisory panel said early evidence shows the new b.1.1529 variant, which it has named Omicron after a letter in the Greek alphabet, poses an increased risk of reinfection compared with other highly transmissible strains.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa will now be meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council on Saturday to discuss these developments.The meeting was initially set for Sunday.

After South African scientists confirmed 22 patients infected by the new variant several countries including the USA, UAE, UK and European countries including Belgium where the variant has also been detected placed travel bans and put South Africa on their red list.

While over the past 24 hour's the NICD has reported 2,828 new COVID-19 cases and this increase represents a 9.1% positivity rate. A further 12 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89,783 to date.