Botswana Variant Alert: 10 Things To Know About The New Variant

botswana variant, norovirus, Hand sanitiser usage coronavirus
The Union Health Ministry has sent out alerts to the states and union territories about a new coronavirus variant discovered by scientists in South Africa. The alert comes nearly a week after India resumed issuing tourist visas to international travellers. The alert, along with guidelines, specifies the variant and its “very unusual constellation” of mutations.

The letter was sent by the Union Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and stated that since this variant has a higher number of mutations, it poses a serious risk to public health. The letter also mentions the procedure that needs to follow in case an international traveller tests positive for the new variant.

 Here are ten things to know about the Botswana variant and India’s plan to keep a check:

– The new variant is called the B.1.1.529 variant of coronavirus.

– It is said to have originated from Botswana, a land-locked country in the southern part of the African continent, and now there are confirmed cases of it in South Africa and Hong Kong as well.

– According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director John Nkengasong, more information on the variant will be released after the data at hand is further analysed.

– As per South African scientists, the new variant has a higher number of mutations that can evade the body’s immune response and might be more transmissible.

– At least 100 confirmed cases of the variant have been reported, most of which are from Gauteng. This led to the scientists requesting the World Health Organisation (WHO) for an urgent sitting on November 26, today, in order to discuss the new strain.

– The Director of UCL Genetics Institute in London Francois Balloux said in a press release that the new variant is likely to have evolved during chronic infection in an immunocompromised person. Possibly an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.

– The WHO has already mentioned four variants of COVID-19, which is Alpha or the UK variant, Beta or South African variant, Gamma or Brazil variant and Delta or Indian variant.

– The Union Health Ministry of India has put out a letter for state and union territories to keep close and rigorous testing of travellers from “at-risk” countries.

– International travellers must be closely tracked and tested, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

– The letter also stated that samples of the travellers who test positive need to be sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing labs.

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