What is known about new COVID-19 variant that govt said can have serious implications?

What is known about new COVID-19 variant that govt said can have serious implications?

All states will have to send samples from Covid-positive travellers to designated labs of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG)

Hours after South African authorities announced they had detected a new variant of the novel coronavirus with a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday directed states to rigorously screen and test travellers coming from or transiting through three countries in which the variant had been confirmed — South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

In a communication to all states and Union Territories, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said India’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has informed the government that “multiple cases of a Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Hong Kong (1 case)”.

“This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel,” Bhushan said.

“lt is therefore imperative that ALL international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the “at risk” Country Category of international travellers coming to lndia)…are subjected to rigorous screening and testing”, the communication said. “The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines.”

What is known about new COVID-19 variant that govt said can have serious implications?
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The Hong Kong case is a traveller from South Africa. South African scientists told a news conference on Thursday that the mutations detected in B.1.1529 were “concerning because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible”, Reuters said in a report from Johannesburg.

Following Bhushan’s direction, all states will have to send samples from Covid-positive travellers to designated labs of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG), which tracks and monitors the emergence and transmission of variants of concern and variants of interest in India.

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