Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says government has noted the concerns raised regarding possible importation of the B.1.617 variant circulating in India.
“We wish to reassure citizens that there are no direct flights from India and that all our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19.
We are currently on high alert to screen passengers and test those who require further assessment.”
Mkhize says team have not detected the B.1.617 variant as yet in South Africa, however, they have consulted members of the the genomics team who have informed them that they have intensified their surveillance not only to ensure that variant can be detected quickly but also to understand what the implications are for the country in the context of B.1.351 being the dominant variant in South Africa.
This work is ongoing and we commit to continue to be guided by science.
“Meanwhile, we have also consulted the Ministerial Advisory Committee to advise us on the approach to management of travelers from countries that have epidemics driven by variants of concern.
Their advise will assist us to determine the next steps forward, of which government will announce these determinations in due course.
For now we ask for calm to prevail as we continue to adhere to the health protocols, tighten containment measures at our ports of entry and keep a balance as we maintain economic activity.”