South Africa’s Health minister Zwelini Mkhize announced that the country has detected a severe coronavirus variant and this could explain the rapid spread of a second wave that affects younger people.
Mkhize made the revelation in a statement on Friday saying the variant which is known as the 501.V2 Variant was identified by South African researchers and details have been sent to the World Health Organization.
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He added that a team led by the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), has sequenced hundreds of virus samples since the pandemic began, and “noticed that a particular variant has increasingly dominated the findings of the samples collected in the past two months”.
South African doctors have remarked that more patients are younger, and do not always have other conditions that amplify the virus’ effect, but are nonetheless suffering from more severe forms of COVID-19.
Minister Mkize “strongly suggests that the current second wave” South Africa is experiencing is being driven by this new variant.
He added that the research team, led by Tulio de Oliveira, has shared its findings with the scientific community and alerted authorities in Britain, who have “studied their own samples and found that a similar mutation… was the variant that was driving their resurgence in London.”
Mkhize reiterated that the most effective way to fight back is to practice social distancing, wear masks and wash hands regularly.
South Africa has been affected more by the coronavirus than other countries on the continent and has so far recorded over 912 000 cases.
Meanwhile, some European countries including Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands have banned flights and trains from the United Kingdom where a severe coronavirus variant was also discovered.
More: Times Of Israel